Blue Cross fu­ture in limbo

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

BLUE Cross of Le­sotho (BCL) faces an un­cer­tain fu­ture as it stands to lose out on M4.5 mil­lion bud­get sup­port from the Min­istry of Health amid re­ports of strained re­la­tions over the ap­point­ment of its new di­rec­tor.

Sup­port from gov­ern­ment is cru­cial to the Chris­tian in­ter­de­nom­i­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion’s work to­wards mit­i­gat­ing the ef­fects of al­co­hol and drug-re­lated prob­lems in the coun­try.

Gov­ern­ment, through the Min­istry of Health, en­tered into a five-year mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MOU) with the BCL con­cern­ing Thaba-bo­siu Pre­ven­tion and Treat­ment Cen­tre (Thaba-bo­siu Cen­tre) in May 2011.

Ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment, BCL would pro­vide “com­ple­men­tary health and so­cial ser­vices within the es­tab­lished poli­cies, au­thor­ity, guide­lines and tech­ni­cal su­per­vi­sion of the Min­istry of Health, through Thaba-bo­siu Cen­tre.”

For its part, gov­ern­ment un­der­took to pro­vide a sub­ven­tion bud­get for the Thaba-bo­siu Cen­tre “which shall be an­nu­ally ap­proved by the gov­ern­ment and com­mu­ni­cated to BCL” and the par­ties also agreed to work to­gether “in a trans­par­ent man­ner to as­sure pro­vi­sion of qual­ity ser­vices to all Ba­sotho”.

How­ever, the Le­sotho Times has learnt that while the agree­ment ex­pired this year, gov­ern­ment was re­luc­tant to re­new it owing to strained re­la­tions with BCL largely as a re­sult of dis­agree­ments over the lat­ter’s ap­point­ment of Thabo Mokhutšoane as the in­sti­tu­tion’s di­rec­tor

Should the gov­ern­ment stick to its guns, BCL op­er­a­tions could be se­ri­ously af­fected as it stands to lose out on the M4.5 mil­lion sub­ven­tion fund the Health Min­istry used to al­lo­cate to it an­nu­ally, among other ben­e­fits, au­thor­i­ta­tive sources have said.

The sources said the ten­sion be­tween the min­istry and BCL intensified in Septem­ber 2016 when the lat­ter’s board of di­rec­tors “du­bi­ously” ap­pointed Mr Mokhutšoane in spite of the min­istry’s di­rec­tive that the re­cruit- ment be halted pend­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion the min­istry needed.

Mr Mokhutšoane was an­nounced as BCL’S new di­rec­tor dur­ing a dra­matic board meet­ing on 26 Septem­ber which cul­mi­nated in the ex­pul­sion of the min­istry’s representative, Ad­vo­cate Mookho Mo­qhali.

BCL op­er­a­tions are over­seen by the board of di­rec­tors who con­sist the BCL pres­i­dent, three mem­bers ap­pointed by the BCL ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, Thaba-bo­siu prin­ci­pal chief and two rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Min­istry of Health.

Ad­vo­cate Mo­qhali was re­port­edly “ex- cused” from the 26 Septem­ber board meet­ing im­me­di­ately af­ter she warned of the min­istry’s di­rec­tive to halt the ap­point­ment of Mr Mokhutšoane.

Ac­cord­ing to the sources, the min­istry had found out that Mr Mokhutšoane was “un­der­qual­i­fied” for the post, adding that al­though there were “highly qual­i­fied” can­di­dates who had also ap­plied for the po­si­tion, the board had al­ways ear­marked Mr Mokhutšoane be­cause of long-stand­ing ties with him.

The sources said that when BCL was es­tab­lished in the 1990s, Mr Mokhutšoane was one of the lead­ers in the youth group called Open House – an arm of the BCL deal­ing specif­i­cally with youth is­sues.

“Most of the board mem­bers are for­mer Open House mem­bers and they seem to have a feel­ing that the BCL is ac­tu­ally their baby,” said one source.

“Even though the po­si­tion of a di­rec­tor was ad­ver­tised, the board had al­ready ear­marked Mr Mokhutšoane for that po­si­tion be­cause he was one of their peers.

“He is also a for­mer BCL pres­i­dent and dur­ing his ten­ure he en­sured that his peers were ap­pointed into the board,” the source said.

Mr Mokhutšoane re­port­edly holds a de­gree in Adult Ed­u­ca­tion while other can­di­dates who were dis­qual­i­fied, re­port­edly hold Mas­ters’ de­grees.

Con­tacted for com­ment, Health Min­is­ter ’Molotsi Monya­mane said there were “mis­un­der­stand­ings” with BCL but re­fused to give de­tails be­fore re­fer­ring this pub­li­ca­tion to the min­istry’s Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Tsi­etsi Le­bakae who in turn au­tho­rised Ad­vo­cate Mo­qhali to com­ment.

Ad­vo­cate Mo­qhali said: “I can just con­firm to you that I was ex­cused from a board meet­ing on 26 Septem­ber fol­low­ing a di­rec­tive from the min­istry that the ap­point­ment of a di­rec­tor should be sus­pended pend­ing ex­pla­na­tion of some is­sues around the said ap­point­ment.”

“I had at­tended the meet­ing as one of the min­istry’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the board. I was in­structed to com­mu­ni­cate the di­rec­tive but I was re­quested to ex­cuse my­self by the board while they car­ried on with the meet­ing.”

For his part, Mr Mokhutšoane this week said he was not the right per­son to com­ment, not­ing: “In the first place I did not ap­point my­self into this po­si­tion.

“What I know is that I ap­plied and got the job. The ques­tion about the le­git­i­macy of my ap­point­ment should be di­rected to the peo­ple who ap­pointed me.”

Mean­while, BCL board chair­per­son Neo Shoaepane re­fused to com­ment, say­ing” “I told you again and again that I can­not talk to you about this is­sue.”

BCL pro­vides com­ple­men­tary health and so­cial ser­vices to Thaba-bo­siu Cen­tre.

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