“Re­sign or we un­leash Kamoli on you . . .”

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

IT just can­not be easy be­ing Moahloli Mphaka at this stage. The gov­ern­ment sec­re­tary’s post (the equiv­a­lent of Chief of Staff in the USA or sec­re­tary to the pres­i­dent/prime min­is­ter and cab­i­net in other ju­ris­dic­tions) is one of the most ven­er­a­ble po­si­tions in gov­ern­ment. In Le­sotho’s case, the gov­ern­ment sec­re­tary (GS), is the ad­min­is­tra­tive head of the en­tire state ma­chin­ery. Ow­ing to the enor­mous im­por­tance of this po­si­tion, ev­ery sit­ting Prime Min­is­ter nat­u­rally wants to throw his blue or yel­low eyed boy into this plum of­fice.

We of course all know that Ntate Mphaka was ap­pointed by Cy­clone Tom and is still largely seen as Ntate Tha­bane’s “yel­low eyed boy”. Af­ter a brief stint as prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary at the Trade and In­dus­try min­istry, Ntate Mphaka was shuf­fled to be­come act­ing gov­ern­ment sec­re­tary be­fore be­ing ap­pointed sub­stan­tively af­ter the ig­no­min­ious exit of the for­mer GS, the acutely hand­some for­mer diplo­mat Mot­latsi Ra­mafole.

Af­ter as­sum­ing the po­si­tion, Ntate Mphaka du­ti­fully did Cyl­cone Tom’s bid­ding, en­sur­ing that ev­ery­one who stood in the Cy­clone’s way was dis­patched quickly with pre­ferred can­di­dates be­ing ap­pointed.

Nat­u­rally all Tha­bane al­lies, now be­ing dis­patched by Ntate Size Two, would also nat­u­rally have been Mphaka’s al­lies.

One would have ex­pected that af­ter re­as­sum­ing of­fice, Ntate Size Two would have wanted to first take-out Mphaka from of­fice and ap­point his own pre­ferred acolyte. The prob­lem of course is that the GS and prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries are sup­posed to be pro­fes­sional ap­point­ments, at least in the­ory, ap­pointed to of­fice on spe­cific con­trac­tual terms un­like min­is­ters, who are po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees and serve at the whim and caprice of the prime min­is­ter.

So it would be illegal for any new gov­ern­ment to come in and just fire a GS or PS be­fore their con­trac­tual time ex­pires, with­out any justa causa. Mphaka, thus, still has a good three if not four years of his con­tract pend­ing. So are the other PSS ap­pointed by Tha­bane.

Even though he was ap­pointed by Cy­clone Tom and is seen as the lat­ter’s yel­low eyed boy, Mphaka now finds him­self in the un­en­vi­able po­si­tion of hav­ing to do Ntate Size Two’s bid­ding. I thus just can­not imag­ine what will be go­ing through Ntate Mphaka’s mind when he sits down to pen those acer­bic letters that he has been dis­patch­ing to var­i­ous of his al­lies now tar­geted by Size Two.

I just can­not imag­ine the feel­ings for Ntate Mphaka pen­ning that let­ter to Maa­parankoe Ma­hao ef­fec­tively telling him that he is a phony com­man­der and fir­ing him from the helm of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) and fur­ther de­mot­ing him from lieu­tenant gen­eral to bri­gadier. This af­ter hav­ing told the same Maa­parankoeeeeeeeee a short while ago that he was an ex­cel­lent soldier and was be­ing el­e­vated to lead the LDF with ef­fect from 29 Au­gust 2014. Of course Ntate Mphaka al­ways claims, and le­git­i­mately so, that he is act­ing on be­half of the PM. That doesn’t how­ever re­move the stench from his sig­na­ture to these letters.

I there­fore feel for Ntate Mphaka. I just can­not imag­ine his feel­ings pen­ning a let­ter to Khothatso Tšooana telling him that he has trans­formed the Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) into ut­ter “rot”. Or to Lefu Manyokole at Health ac­cus­ing him of en­gag­ing in “al­most crim­i­nal be­hav­iour” at that im­por­tant min­istry.

All these peo­ple were im­mensely close to Tha­bane and to Mphaka him­self. So it must be an in­tense feel­ing be­ing com­pelled to turn against your al­lies.

Ntate Mphaka must now be a man who hates his job the most. If I were him, I would have writ­ten these letters with my feet.

We can try to spec­u­late on why all these letters are be­ing writ­ten. All the peo­ple who have re­ceived them so far at least have some sig­nif­i­cant amounts of time left on their con­tracts. Fir­ing them with­out just cause would leave the gov­ern­ment li­able to pay­ing them hefty amounts. The gov­ern­ment can’t buy their con­tracts ei­ther be­cause it is peren­ni­ally bank­rupt.

The best case sce­nario there­fore, it seems, is to scrounge for any mis­de­meanours they have com­mit­ted while in of­fice, in­sti­tute dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against them in terms of the law and fire them. If you are fired in this way, the gov­ern­ment does not have to fork out any­thing to com­pen­sate you. This, of course, seems to be the case with Tšooana, Manyokole and other Tha­bane-ap­pointed PSS yet to re­ceive their acer­bic Mphaka letters. Tšooana is be­ing asked to re­tire from of­fice long be­fore his con­tract ex­pires. If he re­tires, the gov­ern­ment is again not obliged to pay him a hefty pack­age. Ma­parankoeeeee was never wanted in the first place. The eas­i­est op­tion would have been to buy his con­tract and force him to re­tire. But it ap­pears it is un­fath­omable for Ntate Size Two to let this man walk away with bags of cash.

All those who have re­ceived these Mphaka letters seem to be dig­ging in their heels. They want their moolah. My great­est fear is that, judg­ing from the harsh tone of the letters, they will re­sult in pro­tracted le­gal bat­tles that will drain more money from our ema­ci­ated fis­cus. So what is the best way for­ward?

If I were Ntate Size Two, I would sum­mon all those un­wanted PSS and sit with them at State House over my most favourite whisky. I would then tell them: “Gen­tle­men and ladies, you are prod­ucts of the pre­vi­ous regime. My new regime is now in power. Let’s all be hon­est. We want to ap­point our own peo­ple as all politi­cians do. Please va­cate your of­fices forth­with. We will buy the re­main­ing parts of your con­tracts. But we don’t have cash. We will pay you as and when we have the cash.

Al­ter­na­tively, we can pay you in kind. We can or­gan­ise you parcels of plots in your dis­tricts to al­low you to plough crops and rear some pigs. In other words we can help you be­come suc­cess­ful farm­ers. Al­ter­na­tively, we can as­sist you ven­ture into our most ac­com­plished in­dus­trial sec­tor… .,the car wash in­dus­try…. We will help you con­nect hose-pipes onto your cash wash stalls in ad­di­tion to help­ing you pave your car wash stalls. If you in­sist that you don’t want to be paid in kind and you want cash, I will sign “we owe you pledges” on be­half of the gov­ern­ment. We will pay you as and when we get the cash. If our gov­ern­ment gets out of power be­fore you get your money in full, then tough luck.

You will for­feit your money….. All these are very at­trac­tive op­tions I have given you. If you don’t take any of them, you leave my new coali­tion gov­ern­ment with no op­tion but to un­leash Ntate Kamoli on you… As for you Ntate Mphaka, you are an ac­com­plished ac- coun­tant. Go back to your prac­tice and make tonnes of cash there from your con­sult­ing busi­ness…..if you don’t want, then Ntate Kamoli is also on his way to your home….. Fin­ish and Klaar”.

Upon hear­ing the con­clu­sion of Ntate Mo­sisili’s state­ment, I am sure all the un­wanted men and women will im­me­di­ately bolt out of State House, trash­ing their whiskey back to their of­fices to take their bags and run. For them, the con­se­quences of fac­ing Ntate Kamoli would be too ghastly to con­tem­plate. Mphaka would im­me­di­ately save him­self the em­bar­rass­ment of ap­pend­ing his sig­na­ture to those long ram­bling letters. New ap­pointees would come in and the busi­ness of gov­ern­ment would hope­fully pro­ceed with­out the dis­trac­tion of long letters and the prob­a­ble le­gal bat­tles.

Still on the sub­ject of Ntate Kamoli, it was in­ter­est­ing see­ing Mr Size Two froth­ing at that press con­fer­ence this week and warn­ing the United States and the Euro­pean Union that they had no right to in­ter­fere in the sov­er­eign is­sues of Le­sotho.

“Le­sotho has not sought to in­ter­fere in the ap­point­ment of an army com­man­der of an army in any for­eign coun­try”, thun­dered Mr Size Two. Sovereignty, it must be noted, is a word of­ten bandied by African lead­ers. They use it to jus­tify any­thing. Mr Size Two’s venom was a di­rect re­sponse to US Am­bas­sador Ntate Har­rring­ton’s re­cent pro­nounce­ment that the de­ci­sion to re­in­state the “di­vi­sive fig­ure” of Tlali Kamoli to the helm of the LDF was a bad de­ci­sion. Mr Har­ring­ton’s pro­nounce­ments have been backed by the Euro­pean Union which has come out strongly against the cur­rent se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try which has seen all three op­po­si­tion lead­ers flee­ing.

So it seems Mr Size Two re­ally wants to stand up to Un­cle Sam. Can he re­ally? Le­sotho vs USA. That’s an in­ter­est­ing match. My ad­vice to Ntate Size Two is that some bat­tles are just not worth fight­ing, or even pre­tend­ing to fight. If I were him, I would fo­cus on restor­ing con­fi­dence and sta­bil­ity in the coun­try and then win all key al­lies like the USA over.

Mr Har­ring­ton was very clear that his coun­try would not hes­i­tate to take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion if the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion does not im­prove and more in­no­cents like Tšosane con­tinue be­ing gunned down. Let’s, for in­stance, as­sume that we don’t pla­cate Un­cle Sam and he pro­ceeds to cut aid and take us out of AGOA as he did to Swaziland and as the unions here have spec­u­lated.

That would mean the loss of about 40 000 jobs, leav­ing gov­ern­ment as the only em­ployer. That spells doom to Le­sotho and the prob­a­ble end of Ntate Size Two’s coali­tion. So I would never go there. But let’s as­sume that Un­cle Sam opts for an Iraqi re­peat and de­cides to bomb Maseru and fly in a few marines to re­store or­der as what South Africa did in 1998. That might sound a far-fetched op­tion, but if it were to hap­pen, Scru­ta­tor would welcome it as it would be the best op­por­tu­nity for Ntate Kamoli to now prove his met­tle as a soldier and jus­tify why we need the LDF.


GS Moahloli Mphaka

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