‘LEC bosses pay price for probing rot’

‘LEC bosses pay price for probing rot’

MASERU – SUSPENDED Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) boss, Thabo Nkhahle, could be paying the price for instigating an investigation into what insiders describe as “massive rot” at the power utility.  Nkhahle was suspended last week together with corporate secretary Advocate Themba Lesupi and financial manager Refiloe Pule.
Board chairman Refiloe Matekane said the trio was suspended following a damning report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
He refused to give further details but hinted that it could have something to do with the acquisition of work permits for foreign consultants.

“So in honour of PAC, as the board members, we have decided that we should do thorough investigations pertaining to this accusation,’’ Matekane said.
“We don’t say anyone is guilty or not guilty but we are continuing with the investigation following the LEC policy and these people who are involved in this accusation should be suspended.”
He said the suspensions were for a month but could be extended if investigations take longer than anticipated.

thepost has been told that Nkhahle and his two colleagues could be facing a backlash for hiring a forensic audit firm that “is now making some people uncomfortable”.
A source at the company said there are some senior officials who have been hostile to the investigation by South African company called Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo Forensic Investigators.
“The idea is therefore to throw spanners in the works,” said the source who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo was hired to probe the suspected corruption long after the power utility dismantled its procurement unit.
The said there have been numerous attempts to block the investigation.
“First, they complained that the investigators did not have work permits and therefore would not cooperate with them,” the source said.
“After the investigators’ work permits issue was dealt with, the uncooperative officials complained that a local law firm that was hired to do some job concerning the investigation was hired without following procurement procedures,” she said.

“This was meant to thwart the investigation. The investigation however was carried out and a preliminary report was recently issued.”
The source said “the final report is likely to reveal many things that will make some people mad”.
thepost understands that Nkhahle, Lesupi and Pule received letters asking them to explain why they cannot be suspended for allegedly hiring a local law firm without following procurement procedures.

The allegation was that they had cut corners to hire Kopano Associated Advocates to help facilitate work and residents permits for about twenty consultants.
The consultants included investigators from Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo and officials from a company called Senam Business Solutions hired to temporarily work at the LEC’s procurement unit.
The trio responded by asking the company to clarify the allegation but instead of doing that the board suspended them.
“So they were launching an investigation while bringing in a procurement specialist. That was a double blow for some officials who have been milking the company for years through tenders,” the source said.

“Some people are extremely uncomfortable. They want to kill the investigation.”
Nkhahle and Pule could not be reached for comment.
Advocate Lesupi declined to go into details of what happened but said he welcomed investigations against him.
“I welcome the company to investigate me and find if I did anything wrong,” he said.

Refiloe Mpobole

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