MIN­IS­TER, PS CLASH

Min­is­ter seeks PM Tha­bane’s in­ter­ven­tion PS ac­cused of leak­ing con­fi­den­tial cab­i­net memo

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

HEALTH Min­is­ter Nya­pane Kaya has sought the in­ter­ven­tion of Prime Min­is­ter, Thomas Tha­bane, to help re­solve in­tense feuds with his prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary, Mon­aphathi Maraka, whom he ac­cuses of se­ri­ous in­sub­or­di­na­tion.

Au­thor­i­ta­tive sources said Min­is­ter Kaya was so miffed with his PS over dif­fer­ences on var­i­ous ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues. Min­is­ter Kaya ac­cuses Mr Maraka of re­fus­ing to take in­struc­tions from him. The Min­is­ter had gone to the ex­tent of ac­cus­ing his PS of leak­ing con­fi­den­tial cab­i­net dis­cus­sions, al­le­ga­tions Mr Maraka ve­he­mently de­nied in an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times this week.

Such was the in­ten­sity of the an­i­mos­ity be­tween Mr Kaya and Mr Maraka that their work­ing re­la­tion­ship was no longer vi­able, the sources said.

The sources said that Mr Kaya was up in arms with his PS for al­legedly leak­ing a con­fi­den­tial cab­i­net memo propos­ing that the gov­ern­ment must ter­mi­nate its con­tract with the Tše­pong Con­sor­tium to op­er­ate Queen ‘Mamo­hato Me­mo­rial Ser­vice Hos­pi­tal (QMMH) in Maseru.

The con­fi­den­tial cab­i­net memo was re­port­edly leaked to the World Bank which was in­stru­men­tal in the sign­ing of the 18-year Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ship (PPP) agree­ment which the gov­ern­ment inked with Tše­pong Con­sor­tium (formed by Net­care Group and lo­cal com­pa­nies) in 2008.

The in­sti­tu­tion was opened in Oc­to­ber 2011 and it re­placed Queen El­iz­a­beth II Hos­pi­tal as the coun­try’s ma­jor re­fer­ral health fa­cil­ity in a deal that was orig­i­nally hailed as a vi­able pri­vate pub­lic sec­tor part­ner­ship (PPP) op­er­a­tion.

How­ever, the deal has had many crit­ics who ac­cuse the Tse­pong Con­sor­tium of de­plet­ing gov­ern­ment cof­fers and gob­bling a third of the en­tire health bud­get.

Last year, Mr Kaya stated that the gov­ern­ment wanted out of what he de­scribed as a lop­sided con­tract, say­ing the hos­pi­tal could not jus­tify its al­lo­ca­tion of M549 444 mil­lion from the M2.5 bil­lion meant for the en­tire health sec­tor while it did not have the ca­pac­ity to treat cancer pa­tients or pro­vid­ing dial­y­sis ser­vices for kid­ney pa­tients.

Ac­cord­ing to the sources, Mr Kaya be­lieves that Mr Maraka leaked a cab­i­net memo in which the min­is­ter ad­vised gov­ern­ment to cut ties with Tše­pong Con­sor­tium.

“The cab­i­net tasked min­is­ters Kaya, Moeketsi Ma­joro (Fi­nance) and Deputy Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Nthabiseng Ra­makoae, to work to­gether to find a last­ing so­lu­tion to the QMMH prob­lem,” one source said.

“Ntate Kaya pre­sented a memo to the cab­i­net meet­ing, chaired by Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki, propos­ing that the only pos­si­ble and last­ing so­lu­tion to QMMH prob­lems was for gov­ern­ment to dis­en­gage it­self from this part­ner­ship.”

The source said the cab­i­net then ad­vised the min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee to fur­ther ex­am­ine the mat­ter and En­ergy min­is­ter, Mokoto Hloaele, was also added to the com­mit­tee to en­sure that it would come up with the best rec­om­men­da­tions on the QMMH is­sue.

“Ntate Kaya was how­ever, sur­prised when he re­ceived a phone call from a (World) Bank re­quest­ing a meet­ing over the same confi- den­tial cab­i­net memo.

“The bank said they were ready to me­di­ate be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Tše­pong to rene­go­ti­ate the con­tract as dis­en­gag­ing from the con­tract would not be in the best in­ter­ests of both par­ties.

“The Min­is­ter is adamant that the PS is the one who leaked the in­for­ma­tion to that bank,” the source said.

An­other source al­leged Mr Kaya and Mr Maraka were also at log­ger­heads af­ter the lat­ter re­fused to take cer­tain or­ders from the min­is­ter.

The source said the PS dis­obeyed the min­is­ter’s di­rec­tive to write to the Di­rec­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fenses (DCEO), re­quest­ing it to in­ves­ti­gate the Health min­istry’s Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Nyane Let­sie, over a case in which her pri­vate ex­penses were al­legedly paid by the gov­ern­ment.

“The PS also re­quested M340 mil­lion from the gov­ern­ment con­tin­gency fund with­out in­volv­ing the min­is­ter. This and many other is­sues are con­tin­u­ing to put a strain on their al­ready poor work­ing re­la­tion­ship,” the source said.

An­other gov­ern­ment source said Mr Kaya has since asked Dr Tha­bane to in­ter­vene in the mat­ter.

“The min­is­ter re­ported the PS to the Prime Min­is­ter who promised him to look into the mat­ter and it seems the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing even fur­ther,” the source said.

At­tempts to get Mr Kaya’s com­ments were fruit­less as his mo­bile phone was un­avail­able as he is said to be on an of­fi­cial trip to In­dia.

Mr Maraka said in an in­ter­view this week that he pre­vi­ously en­joyed a warm work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the min­is­ter and deputy min­is­ter, ‘Man­thabiseng Phohleli, but “some of our ju­nior staff and se­nior man­age­ment are work­ing hard to come be­tween us”.

“There has never been an in­ci­dent where I pre­vented the min­is­ter from do­ing his job. I do my job un­der his lead­er­ship. He has his role and I have mine. Both our roles are sim­ply to work hard to serve this na­tion,” Mr Maraka said.

He added: “I am not sure what he (the min- is­ter) means when he says I am pre­vent­ing him from work­ing but I have since re­alised that ju­nior staff at times sow di­vi­sions be­tween us.”

“I am pre­pared to work with my hon­ourable min­is­ter at all times and in a sit­u­a­tion where our work­ing re­la­tion­ship has de­te­ri­o­rated, I don’t want to es­ca­late that sit­u­a­tion but rather work hard to re­store the warm work­ing re­la­tion­ship we once en­joyed.”

Asked if it was true that he leaked the cab­i­net memo to the said bank, Mr Maraka said, “There was no leak­age at all be­cause be­fore we were ap­pointed, the bank was al­ready fa­cil­i­tat­ing a re­la­tion­ship be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the Tše­pong Con­sor­tium”.

He also dis­missed as un­founded, claims that he dis­obeyed the min­is­ter by re­fus­ing to write to the DCEO over Dr Let­sie.

“I wrote to the DCEO and the DCEO came to the Min­istry of Health to carry out its in­ves­ti­ga­tions and I also wrote to the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral ask­ing her to ex­plain some is­sues but she hasn’t ex­plained her­self up to now,” Mr Maraka said.

HEALTH Min­is­ter Nya­pane Kaya

HEALTH Min­is­ter Nya­pane Kaya (left) and Health Min­istry PS Mon­aphathi Maraka.

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