Se­nior LRA man­agers’ con­tracts ter­mi­nated

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

TWO of the sus­pended se­nior Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity (LRA) man­agers have left the LRA after their con­tracts were ter­mi­nated by mu­tual con­sent, the Sun­day Ex­press has es­tab­lished.

The two man­agers are Man­gan­gole Tsikinyane who was the Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer and Idia Pe­nane who served as the Chief Plan­ning and Mod­erni­sa­tion Of­fi­cer.

Their de­par­ture was con­firmed in in­ter­nal me­moran­dum to all LRA that was signed by LRA Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral, Thabo Khasipe on 30 May this year.

“This serves to in­form you that, through mu­tual con­sent, the em­ploy­ment con­tracts of Mr Man­gan­gole Tsikinyane and Ms Idia Pe­nane have been ter­mi­nated with im­me­di­ate ef­fect,” Mr Khasipe wrote in the me­moran­dum that was ti­tled, ‘Ter­mi­na­tion of em­ploy­ment con­tracts’.

Mr Khasipe also an­nounced that Ms Ka­banyane Tladi will as­sume the post of Act­ing Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer while Mr Rakokoana Makoa will act as Chief Plan­ning and Mod­erni­sa­tion Of­fi­cer un­til the LRA makes sub­stan­tive ap­point­ments.

Com­ment­ing on their de­ci­sion to leave the LRA, Mr Tsikinyane on Fri­day told the Sun­day

Ex­press that al­though they won the case against their sus­pen­sion, they re­solved to ten­der their res­ig­na­tions be­cause they would not be com­fort­able work­ing at the tax author­ity after the se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that were raised against them.

“We had a mu­tual agree­ment with the man­age­ment after we gave them sat­is­fac­tory doc­u­men­ta­tion. Even though we won our court case and we were re­in­stated, we ten­dered our res­ig­na­tion letters be­cause we thought it was the best thing to do.

“I felt that I wouldn’t be com­fort­able any­more after such al­le­ga­tions were lev­elled against me,” Mr Tsikinyane said.

Ef­forts to ob­tain com­ment from Mr Khasipe and the LRA pub­lic re­la­tions depart­ment proved fruit­less as they were not reach­able on their phones.

Mr Tsikinyane and Ms Pe­nane are among the five se­nior man­agers who were sus­pended by the LRA ini­tially for six weeks on 7 March 2018 for al­leged fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct.

They were sus­pended along with Chief Le­gal and Pol­icy Of­fi­cer and Act­ing Board Sec­re­tary, Seth Macheli, Com­mis­sioner of En­force­ment Reale­boha Mathaba and Head of Lit­i­ga­tion Mout­loatsi Lich­aba.

They were sus­pended after the LRA staff union (LERASU) pre­sented the LRA board with damn­ing al­le­ga­tions of fi­nan­cial and gov­er­nance im­pro­pri­ety in­clud­ing the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion and theft of mil­lions of LRA funds.

Their sus­pen­sion was meant to fa­cil­i­tate an au­dit ex­er­cise to as­cer­tain the ve­rac­ity of LERASU’s al­le­ga­tions and when the six weeks lapsed in April, the LRA ex­tended it for an in­def­i­nite pe­riod on the grounds that the in­ves­ti­ga­tions were not com­plete and re­quired more time than ini­tially an­tic­i­pated.

All five man­agers chal­lenged their sus­pen­sion in the High Court in April where they sought an or­der for their re­in­state­ment.

In their court pa­pers, they cited the LRA, the LRA Board and the Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral of the Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity, Thabo Khasipe as the first, sec­ond and third re­spon­dents re­spec­tively.

They also want the High Court to de­clare their sus­pen­sion as “un­law­ful, in­valid and null and void with no force or ef­fect”.

The High Court has since ruled that their sus­pen­sions were null and void and or­dered their re­in­state­ment while the LRA in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue.

The court said the LRA had failed to jus­tify why it was nec­es­sary to sus­pend them, adding there­fore the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into their al­leged fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct could con­tinue while they were at work.

In ad­di­tion to the court ap­pli­ca­tion, the five se­nior man­agers also asked the Di­rec­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences (DCEO) to in­ves­ti­gate the cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against them by the author­ity’s work­ers’ union.

They took the un­usual step of re­quest­ing the anti-graft body to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against them be­cause they be­lieve they are in­no­cent and such an in­ves­ti­ga­tion would ex­on­er­ate them.

Ad­vo­cate Mathaba sep­a­rately wrote to the DCEO on the 25th of March, stat­ing among other things that, “spe­cific al­le­ga­tions against me are to the ef­fect that I am on the for­mer LRA boss Thabo Let­jama’s pay­roll and that I was of­fered a con­sul­tancy con­tract with­out fol­low­ing due pro­cesses”.

“It is fur­ther al­leged that I had re­signed from the em­ploy of the LRA but that I was later reem­ployed due to my cor­rupt re­la­tion­ship with the then Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral.

“In as much as the al­le­ga­tions…that have pre­cip­i­tated my sus­pen­sion are spu­ri­ous, I wish for these al­le­ga­tions to be in­ves­ti­gated and proper ac­tion be taken in or­der to re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence and trust in the LRA,” Adv Mathaba writes.

He fur­ther pledges his full co­op­er­a­tion in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing ac­cess to his per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to fa­cil­i­tate the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

His four sus­pended col­leagues also penned a joint let­ter to the DCEO yes­ter­day, where they “sub­mit our­selves to your or­gan­i­sa­tion for due in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety al­le­ga­tions made against us by the LRA Staff Union (LERASU) and for which it would ap­pear the LRA Board has de­cided to sus­pend us from duty pend­ing a foren­sic au­dit”.

“We con­sider the al­le­ga­tions se­ri­ous enough to merit your at­ten­tion as the statu­tory body es­tab­lished with the spe­cific man­date to re­ceive and in­ves­ti­gate any com­plaints al­leg­ing cor­rup­tion in any pub­lic body.”

Apart from clear­ing their names, the quar­tet fur­ther state that a DCEO probe is nec­es­sary to re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence in the LRA “whose im­age must nec­es­sar­ily have been crit­i­cally im­paired as a re­sult of those al­le­ga­tions”.

FOR­MER LRA Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Man­gan­gole Tsikinyane.

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