THA­BANE FIRES NSS BOSS

. . . as Tšooana bounces back

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas­mas Tha­bane has ended the ten­ure of Colonel Tumo Lekhooa as Na­tion­alonal Se­cu­rity Ser­vice di­rec­tor-gen­er­al­neral barely a year af­ter his ap­point­ment­nt­ment and sent the of­fi­cer back to o his old job as Di­rec­tor of Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence at the Le­sotho De­fenceence Force (LDF).

The premier has also o ap­pointed for­mer Le­sotho Mount­ed­nted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) com­mis­sioner, mmis­sioner, Khothatso Tšooana, ass Po­lice and Public Safety prin­ci­pal al sec­re­tary (PS) as part of an on­go­ing go­ing purge and re­place­ment of of­fi­cials ap­pointed by the Pakalithaha Mo­sisililed for­mer gov­ern­ment.

The four-party gov­ern­ingrn­ing coali­tion has sought to con­sol­i­datesol­i­date its hold on the leverss of power af­ter un­seat­ingng the Dr Mo­sisili-led regime in the 3 June 2017 17 par­lia­men­tary elec­c­tions.

Dr Tha­bane’s All Baa­sotho Con­ven­tion, the he Al­liance of Democrats, ts, Basotho Na­tional Party ty and Re­formed Con­gressss of Le­sotho cob­bled toogether the 63 seats theyy won in the elec­tions too form gov­ern­ment.

They re­placed the Dr Mo­sisili-led sev­en­party gov­ern­ing coali­tion which was in­au­gu­rated on 17 March 2015 but failed to serve its five-year term af­ter los­ing a 1 March 2017 par­lia­men­tary no­con­fi­dence vote that pre­cip­i­tated the elec­tions.

Al­ready, Dr Tha­bane has fired Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary Lebohang Ramohlanka with ef­fect from last Fri­day and also sent LMPS Com­mis­sioner Mo­lahlehi Let­soepa on an in­vol­un­tary 90-day leave, which is usu­ally a pre­cur­sor for dis­missal.

The lat­est de­vel­op­ments were con­firmed yes­ter­day by Dr Tha­bane’s spokesper­son, Thabo Thakalekoala, who also re­vealed that Mr Tšooana took on his new role on Tues­day, while Colonel Lekhooa was dis­patched to the LDF bar­racks on Mon­day.

“I can con­firm that Ntate Tšooana has been ap­pointed as the Min­istry of Po­lice and Public Safety’s prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary and he as­sumed his new post yes­ter­day (Tues­day),” he said.

“Ntate Lekhooa was sec­onded to the NSS as a di­rec­tor and his sec­ond­ment has since been ter­mi­nated with im­me­di­ate ef­fect start­ing Mon­day. He is now back in the bar­racks re­sum­ing his du­ties in his sub­stan­tive po­si­tion.”

Asked if the ter­mi­na­tion of Colonel Lekhooa’s ten­ure and Mr Tšooana’s ap­point­ment were part of an on­go­ing process of rid­ding the gov­ern­ment of ves­tiges of the Mo­sisili era, Mr Thakalekoala said: “No, I wouldn’t say that be­cause the de­ci­sions were purely made on the per­for­mances of each in­di­vid­ual.”

Colonel Lekhooa was ap­pointed as NSS di­rec­tor-gen­eral last Septem­ber by Dr Mo­sisili, leav­ing his sub­stan­tive role as Di­rec­tor of Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence. The se­nior of­fi­cer had been ap­pointed on a three­year “sec­ond­ment” con­tract, which meant that he would re­turn to the LDF af­ter the laps­ing of the pe­riod.

Colonel Lekhooa had re­placed Lerotholi Seeiso as NSS di­rec­tor-gen­eral, af­ter the lat­ter left his job on 31 March 2016 — six months be­fore the ex­piry of his con­tract. His con­tract was due to ex­pire in Oc­to­ber 2016.

The NSS had cited ill-health for Mr Seeiso’s de­ci­sion to leave the pow­er­ful post early.

For his part, Mr Tšooana was ap­pointed as LMPS com­mis­sioner in Jan­uary 2014 by Dr Tha­bane, dur­ing the lat­ter’s first ten­ure as prime min­is­ter.

How­ever, Mr Tšooana was sent on early re­tire­ment by the Dr Mo­sisili-led gov­ern­ment af­ter deem­ing him un­fit to hold of­fice. Among the many charges lev­elled against him were in­com­pe­tence as well as po­lar­is­ing and politicising the LMPS.

Mr Tšooana had chal­lenged his dis­missal in the courts of law, ar­gu­ing that it was po­lit­i­cally-mo­ti­vated.

The for­mer top cop had been tipped to re­place the em­bat­tled Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa along with Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice (DCP) Holomo Moli­beli. Mr Tšooana is regarded as Dr Tha­bane’s “blue-eyed boy” among po­lit­i­cal in­sid in­sid­ers.

The gov gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tion to re­move C Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa and Colon Colonel Lekhooa was made ap­par­ent b by Deputy Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter M Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe a fort­night ago dur­ing the un­veil­ing cerem cer­e­mony of a mon­u­ment in hon­our of the late for­mer LDF com­mande com­man­der Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao in M Mokema.

“This coun­trycou will not go for­ward if those thatth are head­ing na­tional se­cu­rity ag agen­cies are still in power. I wo would like to ap­plaud my prim prime min­is­ter for re­mov­ing Pol Po­lice Com­mis­sioner (Mola lahlehi) Let­soepa and the s same needs to be done with (Tumo) Lekhooa of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vices,” Mr Mo­fo­mobe had said.

Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa’s in­vol­un­tary leave came in the wake of a firestorm over the tim­ing of his pro­mo­tions for 44 of­fi­cers which were an­nounced a day af­ter the 3 June 2017 Na­tional Assem­bly elec­tions.

Par­ties in the gov­ern­ing coali­tion had ac­cused Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa of do­ing Dr Mo­sisili’s bid­ding by de­ploy­ing the for­mer premier’s al­lies to strate­gic ar­eas so that he could “rule from the grave”, re­fer­ring to the re­tain­ing power even af­ter leav­ing of­fice.

How­ever, Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa ve­he­mently de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing the pro­mo­tions were not po­lit­i­cally-mo­ti­vated but based on merit.

He as­serted that the 44 pro­moted of­fi­cers sat­is­fied the Board of Pro­mo­tions’ cri­te­ria, adding that the LMPS had the fi­nan­cial where­withal to pay their in­creased re­mu­ner­a­tion.

The Le­sotho Po­lice Staff As­so­ci­a­tion has since dragged Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa to court chal­leng­ing the le­gal­ity of the pro­mo­tions.

Prime min­is­ter thomas tha­bane

PRIME min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane. NEWLY ap­pointed Po­lice and Public Safety PS Khothatso Tšooana.

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