Health PS faces dis­missal

Manyokole ac­cused of cor­rup­tion and abuse of power

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Staff Re­porters

MIN­ISTRY of Health Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary re­tary (PS), Lefu Manyokole, is on the verge of f be­ing fired. But Mr Manyokele seems de­ter­mined­mined not to go down with­out a fight.

Act­ing Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary (AGS), Motha­bathe Hlalele, this week wrote to Mr Manyokele order­ing him to show cause,, within seven days, why he should not be sus­pend­spended pending a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing into hi­sis con­duct or have his con­tract ter­mi­nated in terms of the Public Ser­vice Act.

Mr Hlalele said he had, over a pe­ri­o­driod of time, been re­ceiv­ing “re­li­able re­ports and nd ver­i­ta­ble in­for­ma­tion” about what he de­scribed­cribed as Mr Manyokole’s “sus­pected grave acts of mis­con­duct; in some in­stances even pos­si­bly os­si­bly bor­der­ing on crim­i­nal­ity.”

The let­ter then chron­i­cles Mr Manyokole’sokole’s al­leged mis­de­meanors. It ac­cuses Mr Manyokole of cor­rup­tion and abuse of pow­erer dur­ing a ten­der process for con­tracts to providero­vide cater­ing ser­vices for gov­ern­ment hos­pi­tal­spi­tals and health in­sti­tu­tions in 2013.

“The aver­ments on the role you (ManManyokole) are sup­posed to have played in that par­tic­u­lar ten­der process are dam­ag­ing,”ng,” reads Mr Hlalele’s let­ter.

“You are vir­tu­ally ac­cused of cor­rup­tion­tion and/or abuse of power, and many oth­er­her un­savoury things were said about your ur con­duct in that mat­ter.”

The com­pa­nies which lost the ten­der, among them Rhythm and Blues Cater­ing, Po­las For All which trades as Just In Time and Melt­ing Pot, took Mr Manyokole to court, ac­cus­ing him of hav­ing in­ter­fered with the ten­der process to their prej­u­dice and dis­ad­van­tage. Mr Hlalele re­ferred to the al- lega­tions raised in court pa­pers by th­ese se com­pa­nies, de­scrib­ing them as very se­ri­ous. ious.

“It was said (in the court pa­pers) thatat you had au­tho­rised pay­ments to un­de­serv­ing erv­ing sup­pli­ers (cater­ers); you in­ter­fered withth the ten­der process us­ing the weight of yourr of­fice (sic), to have new sup­pli­ers en­gaged in the pres­ence of and over al­ready on-job sup­pli­ers (sic), thus re­sult­ing in a num­ber of ex­is­tence (sic) of two sup­pli­ers for one and the same ser­vice.

“In some in­stances, those de­serv­ing pay­ment were sim­ply side­lined and re­fused the same in favour of un­de­serv­ing ones. More dis­turb­ing is the al­le­ga­tion (apart from aver­ments made in court pa­pers) that in one in­stance, you had caused to be paid more than one mil­lion mal­oti of tax­pay­ers’ money to a caterer who had barely served for 10 days.”

The let­ter also ac­cuses Mr Manyokole of “im­per­son­at­ing and mas­querad­ing” as the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Health dur­ing early 2013 yet he had not been of­fi­cially ap­pointed to the po­si­tion.

“The sus­pi­cion is that it is at this par­tic­u­lar time that you had lent your sig­na­ture to some food-cater­ing agree­ments, pur­port­edly act­ing on be­half of the Min­istry. Should this be es- tab­lished as a fact, it hinges on the fraud­u­lent,” charged Mr Hlalele.

The act­ing gov­ern­ment sec­re­tary also ac­cuses Mr Manyokole of com­mit­ting the gov­ern­ment to in­crease the salaries of strik­ing work­ers at Queen ‘Mamo­hato Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal with­out cabi­net author­ity.

“If this be es­tab­lished as a fact, it was ir­re­spon­si­ble. But as I say, there is need to in­ves­ti­gate and es­tab­lish the ve­rac­ity, not only of this par­tic­u­lar al­le­ga­tion but of the oth­ers as well,” wrote Mr Hlalele.

Mr Hlalele also lists the dam­age of Mr Manyokole’s of­fi­cial ve­hi­cle at Marabeng in 2013 “un­der cir­cum­stances best known to you” as be­ing among the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary’s al­leged trans­gres­sions.

Mr Manyokole’s ve­hi­cle was de­stroyed in a fire and the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary at­trib­uted the in­ci­dent to un­known ar­son­ists. But Mr Hlalele ac­cuses the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary of sup­press­ing “true“tru in­for­ma­tion” about the in­ci­dent and “to ge gen­er­ally em­bark on a mis­lead­ing cam­paign as to what ex­actly hap­pened.”

“This is not how an of­fi­cer of your stand­ing should com com­port him­self, should it turn out that ind in­deed you en­gaged in such con­duct….,” th the let­ter reads.

“At this stage, as you will ap­pre­ci­ate, all is but just al­lega al­le­ga­tions and sus­pi­cion and noth­ing as yet is con­clu­sive un­til thor­ough in­ves­ti­gati in­ves­ti­ga­tions can be made in the mat­ter. Still, the al­le­ga­tions are of a se­ri­ous na­ture na­ture, and I can­not sim­ply sit by and watch.”

Mr Hlalele said there was a def­i­nite need to clea clear the air by speedy inv in­ves­ti­ga­tions which cou could lead to a dis­ci­plina nary en­quiry or even t the ter­mi­na­tion of Mr Manyokole’s con­tract of em­ploy­ment.

While in­ves­ti­gat tions are be­ing done, s said Mr Hlalele, it w would only be proper for the Health prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary to be suspended to stop him from in­ter­fer­ing with the in­ves­ti­ga­tions and to en­sure that they are con­ducted, “smoothly, unim­peded and unhindered”.

The act­ing gov­ern­ment sec­re­tary then in­vites Mr Manyokole to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions ex­plain­ing why he should not be suspended from of­fice, on full pay, pending a dis­ci­plinary en­quiry, if need be, or even ter­mi­na­tion of his con­tract of em­ploy­ment which has about two years re­main­ing.

Mr Manyokole con­firmed re­ceiv­ing the let­ter last night and said he was work­ing on his re­sponse.

While he would pro­vide his de­tailed re­sponse to the let­ter, he nev­er­the­less ex­pressed dis­may that he had been con­tacted by jour­nal­ists for com­ment long be­fore he had been of­fi­cially served with the let­ter.

But even more baf­fling to him was that he was be­ing asked to re­spond to mat­ters that were cur­rently in the courts and for which fi­nal judg­ment had not been is­sued.

“Does this mean that the ju­ris­dic­tion of the courts is be­ing ousted in favour of a par­al­lel process just be­cause some peo­ple are des­per­ate to get rid of me?” asked Mr Manyokole.

“It is com­mon cause that sev­eral al­le­ga­tions have been flung at me by those who lost ten­ders and oth­ers who claim to have been ag­grieved by my ac­tions… All th­ese mat­ters have been con­tested in the courts and it’s very cu­ri­ous that we can­not wait for the courts to ex­er­cise their con­sti­tu­tional ju­ris­dic­tions to make fi­nal judg­ments on all mat­ters be­fore them be­fore we em­bark on any other pro­cesses….”

He said the other al­le­ga­tions raised in the let­ter were or­di­nary hearsay, mak­ing it ex­tremely un­for­tu­nate that th­ese were be­ing used as the ba­sis of want­ing to oust him.

“Rules of nat­u­ral jus­tice re­quire that any­one be­ing charged with mis­con­duct be served with clear and lu­cid charges or al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing on the ba­sis of which one can for­mu­late a re­sponse.

“The let­ter it­self ob­serves as such by clearly stat­ing that ‘all is but just al­le­ga­tions and sus­pi­cion, and noth­ing is as yet con­clu­sive’. Surely if al­le­ga­tions and sus­pi­cions flung around se­nior of­fi­cials were given this metic­u­lous at­ten­tion, the busi­ness of gov­ern­ment would cease to ex­ist as we will all be fo­cused on deal­ing with th­ese sus­pi­cions that are rou­tinely flung around se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who are, in most cases, duty-bound to make de­ci­sions that are not popular with ev­ery­one.”

But Mr Manyokole was par­tic­u­larly ag­grieved with the fact that he had started hear­ing sto­ries about his “im­pend­ing sus­pen­sion or dis­missal” long be­fore any cor­re­spon­dence had been served on him.

The let­ter had sub­se­quently been served on him af­ter jour­nal­ists had al­ready con­tacted him. He de­scribed this as deeply un­for­tu­nate.

He said while it was un­der­stand­able that any new gov­ern­ment would nec­es­sar­ily want to ap­point its own peo­ple to se­nior gov­ern­men­tal po­si­tions and re­place those it is un­com­fort­able with, he wished this was done prop­erly with­out seek­ing to be­smirch any in­cum­bents.

“There should be no rea­son to seek to be­smirch un­wanted peo­ple as a way of try­ing to fire them and avoid pay­ing them their perks. My de­tailed re­sponse will be ar­tic­u­lated to the au­thors of the let­ter as re­quested.”

At this stage, as you will ap­pre­ci­ate, all is but just al­le­ga­tions and sus­pi­cion and noth­ing as yet is con­clu­sive un­til thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tions can be made in the mat­ter. Still, the al­le­ga­tions are of a se­ri­ous na­ture, and I can­not sim­ply sit by and watch

MIN­ISTRY of Health PS Lefu Manyokole

MIN­ISTRY of health PS Lefu Manyokole

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