Tha­bane or­ders fir­ing of top LHWC of­fi­cial

. . . ac­cus­ing him of un­der­per­for­mance and in­sub­or­di­na­tion

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane has or­dered the dis­missal, with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, of Le­sotho’s chief del­e­gate to the Le­sotho High­lands Wa­ter Com­mis­sion (LHWC), Topollo Charles Put­soane, over the lat­ter’s al­leged poor per­for­mance and in­sub­or­di­na­tion.

But En­ergy, Me­te­o­rol­ogy and Wa­ter Af­fairs Min­is­ter Tšeliso Mokhosi seems to be re­fus­ing to im­ple­ment the in­struc­tion, un­der­scor­ing the an­ar­chy which con­tin­ues to de­fine the coali­tion gov­ern­ment, even as the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 plebiscite draws nearer.

The LHWC is the largest in­fra­struc­ture part­ner­ship be­tween the Le­sotho and South African gov­ern­ments.

It is tasked with over­see­ing the sec­ond phase of the Le­sotho High­lands Wa­ter Project (LHWP) aimed at al­le­vi­at­ing South Africa’s acute fresh wa­ter short­ages. South Africa is also rep­re­sented on the LHWC.

In a let­ter dated 5 Jan­uary 2015 to Mr Mokhosi, one of the LCD min­is­ters in the coali­tion gov­ern­ment, Dr Tha­bane in­structs the Min­is­ter to fire Mr Put­soane be­cause he “has not per­formed sat­is­fac­to­rily as mea­sured against his con­trac­tual obligations.”

Mr Mokhosi ap­pointed Mr Put­soane from 1 April 2014 to lead the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho’s del­e­ga­tion on the wa­ter project.

Dr Tha­bane claimed Mr Put­soane’s “poor per­for­mance…. was ag­gra­vated by his un­pro­fes­sional con­duct and in­sub­or­di­na­tion.”

Be­fore he was ap­pointed as Le­sotho’s Chief Del­e­gate, Mr Put­soane had been em­ployed by the LHWP for 15 years from Fe­bru­ary 1989 un­til his con­tract ex­pired in Au­gust 2004.

He started his ca­reer as a ju­nior en­gi­neer and rose through the ranks to be­come as­sis­tant chief ex­ec­u­tive.

But Dr Tha­bane, ques­tioned Mr Put­soane’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions to the “key and cru­cial” po­si­tion of Le­sotho’s chief del­e­gate on the LHWC.

“It begs the ques­tion as to whether or not, in the first place, Mr Put­soane was suit­ably qual­i­fied to fill-up such a key and cru­cial po­si­tion in the LHWC.

Quite frankly, I do not re­call as to whether his ap­point­ment was sub­mit­ted to my of­fice or to the cabi­net (for ap­proval),” wrote the pre­mier.

“As you know, wa­ter is one (of) our most im­por­tant and valu­able strate­gic as­sets; hence gov­ern­ment at­taches great im­por­tance and sig- nif­i­cance, as well as (sic) giv­ing the high­est pri­or­ity to the devel­op­ment of our wa­ter re­sources.”

Con­se­quently, Dr Tha­bane said, “spe­cial, care­ful and max­i­mum ef­fort should be given to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the LHWP in or­der for our na­tion to reap max­i­mum benefits.”

“Re­gret­tably, it has come to my no­tice that the Chief Del­e­gate, Mr Put­soane, who has been ap­pointed to lead the G.O.L. (Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho) del­e­ga­tion on the LHWP, has not per­formed sat­is­fac­to­rily as mea­sured against his con­trac­tual obligations…” he said.

Af­ter due con­sid­er­a­tion, “I have de­cided that his con­tract should be ter­mi­nated with im­me­di­ate ef­fect,” wrote Dr Tha­bane.

The pre­mier told Mr Mokhosi he had also in­structed Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary Moahloli Mphaka to com­mu­ni­cate the de­ci­sion to the wa­ter and en­ergy min­istry’s Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Le­soma “in or­der that he may, ac­cord­ingly, im­ple­ment such ter­mi­na­tion of con­tract.”

Mr Mphaka im­me­di­ately wrote to Mr Le­soma on 6 Jan­uary 2015 — a day af­ter Dr Tha­bane’s let­ter to Mr Mokhosi — urg­ing the PS to im­ple­ment the Prime Min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion.

In an in­ter­view with the

Le­sotho Times, Mr Mphaka con­firmed both let­ters to Mr Mokhosi and Mr Le­soma, but re­fused to com­ment on the is­sue say­ing: “I don’t re­ally have any­thing to do with the mat­ter.

“As you may no­tice, I was in­structed by the prime min­is­ter to in­form the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary about the de­ci­sion and I only did that.

“I think this mat­ter is rather too com­plex for me to in­ter­fere be­yond just writ­ing a let­ter to in­form the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary about the prime min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion.”

Mr Mokhosi has vir­tu­ally re­fused to im­ple­ment Dr Tha­bane’s in­struc­tion. The min­is­ter said yes­ter­day he was yet to re­spond to Dr Tha­bane’s let­ter, adding,

“I am ac­tu­ally the one who made the ef­fort to hire Mr Put­soane into that po­si­tion shortly af­ter I be­came the En­ergy min­is­ter.

It was my re­spon­si­bil­ity as the min­is­ter to hire him based on his qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pe­ri­ence. No one else will de­cide to dis­miss Mr Put­soane ex­cept me.”

Mr Mokhosi said he was in the dark about why Mr Put­soane was be­ing ac­cused of in­sub­or­di­na­tion and in­com­pe­tence.

Although Dr Tha­bane did not de­tail the in­stances of the al­leged in­sub­or­di­na­tion, the Le­sotho Times has since es­tab­lished the pre­mier was, among other is­sues, an­gry with Mr Put­soane for al­legedly re­fus­ing to au­tho­rize re­mu­ner­a­tion re­lated pay­ments for the Min­istry of En­ergy’s Ad­viser, Ma­supha Sole.

Mr Sole, who was con­tro­ver­sially ap­pointed Tech­ni­cal Ad­viser to the LHWC shortly af­ter he was paroled af­ter spend­ing nine years be­hind bars, was last year re­de­ployed by Mr Mokhosi to be­come the min­istry’s ad­viser.

Mr Sole had been con­victed of tak­ing M5 mil­lion in kick­backs from Canada’s Acres In­ter­na­tional and Ger­man-based Lah­meyer In­ter­na­tional be­tween the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was the Le­sotho High­lands Devel­op­ment Author­ity boss.

Un­der the ar­range­ment, the Le­sotho Times un­der­stands, Mr Sole would still re­ceive his monthly salaries from LHWC as per autho­ri­sa­tion by Mr Put­soane.

How­ever, Mr Sole had al­legedly not re­ceived his re­mu­ner­a­tion for the past four months, be­cause Mr Put­soane re­fused to au­tho­rize his pay­ments ar­gu­ing that he was no longer un­der the em­ploy of the com­mis­sion.

Mr Sole, had then sought Dr Tha­bane’s in­ter­ven­tion as well as that of deputy pre­mier Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing and King Let­sie III.

Mr Sole con­firmed he had not re­ceived his monthly salaries “since the re­sump­tion of my new con­tract as ad­viser to both the En­ergy min­is­ter and his Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary.”

He, how­ever, would not be drawn to dis­cuss the de­tails in an in­ter­view pre­fer­ring to only say that “this is­sue is still be­ing worked out and I don’t want to jeop­ar­dise pro­cesses taken to ad­dress it.”

Re­peated ef­forts to get com­ments from Mr Put­soane and Mr Le­soma were fruit­less by the time of go­ing to print.

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