Sparks fly in cau­cus meet­ing

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

ARE­CENT cau­cus meet­ing of leg­is­la­tors from the four par­ties in the gov­ern­ing four party col­la­tion re­port­edly de­gen­er­ated into a slang­ing match af­ter some All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leg­is­la­tors ac­cused the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter, Monyane Moleleki, of seek­ing to muz­zle the Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee (PAC). Sources close to the events told the Sun­day

Ex­press’ sis­ter Le­sotho Times pub­li­ca­tion that tem­pers flared three weeks ago in par­lia­ment af­ter ABC leg­is­la­tors, Mot­lohi Maliehe and Nya­pane Kaya, took ex­cep­tion to Mr Moleleki’s as­ser­tions that PAC chair­per­son, Se­libe Mo­choboroane was us­ing the PAC to em­bar­rass pub­lic ser­vants to gain po­lit­i­cal mileage.

Mr Mo­choboroane is the leader of the op­po­si­tion Move­ment for Eco­nomic Change (MEC). He has pre­vi­ously de­nied al­le­ga­tions that he was us­ing the PAC for po­lit­i­cal mileage. He has in­sisted that the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee was only ex­e­cut­ing its du­ties ac­cord­ing to its man­date.

The cau­cus, which was chaired by leg­is­la­tor Sam Ra­papa from Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s ABC party, was at­tended by leg­is­la­tors from the four gov­ern­ing par­ties, namely the ABC, Mr Moleleki’s Al­liance of Democrats (AD), the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) and the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP).

The meet­ing was held three weeks ago at the Na­tional Assem­bly premises im­me­di­ately af­ter the nor­mal par­lia­men­tary ses­sion. It was held a few days af­ter deputy speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly, Te­boho Lehloenya, an­nounced that all par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees, in­clud­ing the PAC, had been barred from hold­ing its ses­sions in the cham­bers on se­cu­rity grounds.

Mr Lehloenya said the PAC and other par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees were now ex­pected to hold all their pro­ceed­ings in the com­mit­tee rooms.

PAC sub­se­quently canned all its pro­ceed­ings on the grounds that the com­mit­tee rooms were too small to ac­com­mo­date com­mit­tee mem­bers and all in­di­vid­u­als who would be sum­moned to give ev­i­dence be­fore it.

A few days af­ter the deputy speaker’s an­nounce­ment, the leg­is­la­tors from the gov­ern­ing par­ties re­port­edly held a cau­cus where tem­pers flared af­ter Mr Moleleki raised con­cerns about the PAC pro­ceed­ings.

“In that meet­ing Ntate Moleleki told the gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tors that they must tread care­fully on the is­sue of the PAC as Ntate Mo­choboroane was us­ing it to em­bar­rass peo­ple and act as though he was above the law,” a source said.

“Ntate Moleleki ap­peared deeply dis­turbed by the on­go­ing PAC in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of pub­lic funds, say­ing it was not good for the PAC chair­per­son to con­tinue to em­bar­rass civil ser­vants dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings.”

An­other source said that Mr Moleleki’s re­marks irked ABC leg­is­la­tors, Mot­lohi Maliehe and Nya­pane Kaya, who said there was noth­ing wrong with the PAC tak­ing pub­lic ser­vants to task for abus­ing pub­lic funds.

Mr Kaya al­legedly ac­cused Mr Moleleki of at­tempt­ing to di­vide PAC along party lines and seek­ing to pro­tect his al­lies from scru­tiny by the par­lia­men­tary body.

“Ntate Maliehe im­me­di­ately spoke af­ter Ntate Moleleki and said he didn’t see any prob­lem with the em­bar­rass­ment of pub­lic of­fi­cials if at all Mo­choboroane was em­bar­rass­ing any­one. He (Maliehe) said that kind of em­bar­rass­ment would go a long way in up­root­ing cor­rup­tion in the civil ser­vice as peo­ple would now be afraid of loot­ing gov­ern­ment money.

“Ntate Kaya also spoke out and told Ntate Moleleki that he was only try­ing to pro­tect his al­lies from be­ing em­bar­rassed. (He) Ntate Kaya said that Ntate Moleleki was only seek­ing to pro­tect his al­lies and he was aware of a pic­ture of

Ntate Moleleki and Ad­vo­cate Hlahlobo Moruri that the lat­ter had posted to his Face­book page,” the source said.

Adv Moruri is the for­mer As­sis­tant Mas­ter of the High Court. He posted to his Face­book page, pic­tures of him­self and Mr Moleleki. Adv Moruri also re­cently joined hands with the Mas­ter of the High Court ‘Makatleho Ma­tia and Moroesi Tau-Tha­bane to file a court ap­pli­ca­tion seek­ing to bar the PAC from sum­mon­ing them to ap­pear be­fore it.

The trio also want the High Court to in­ter­dict the PAC from in­ves­ti­gat­ing or deal­ing with mat­ters re­lated to the Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Es­tates Procla­ma­tion No.19 of 1935.

The trio have al­ready ap­peared be­fore the PAC on 16 and 17 April this year to re­spond to al­le­ga­tions that the of­fice of the Mas­ter of the High Court mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds from the es­tate of the late Molise Mapetla.

Mpho Mapetla, one of the chil­dren of the late Mr Mapetla, tes­ti­fied be­fore the PAC last month and lamented the man­ner in which the of­fice of the Mas­ter of the High Court ad­min­is­tered their fa­ther’s es­tate. She al­leged that Adv Moruri cheated her and her sib­lings of their in­her­i­tance.

The PAC then di­rected the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Jus­tice and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice, Le­bo­hang Mochaba, to in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the dis­burse­ment of the or­phans’ M546 574.83 in­her­i­tance by Adv Moruri.

PS Mochaba, Ms Ma­tia, Adv Moruri and other em­ploy­ees were sup­posed to ap­pear be­fore the PAC last month with a full re­port of what tran­spired dur­ing the ex­e­cu­tion of late Mr Mapetla’s es­tate.

How­ever, this did not hap­pen af­ter the trio filed their court ap­pli­ca­tion on 18 May this year.

Com­ment­ing fur­ther on the de­vel­op­ments at the cau­cus meet­ing, one source said the cau­cus told Mr Kaya that he was out of or­der and asked him to apol­o­gise to Mr Moleleki for his re­marks. Mr Kaya is said to have promptly obeyed and apol­o­gised to the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter.

“Ntate Moleleki did not re­spond to the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against him but he asked that the cau­cus should in­ves­ti­gate his re­la­tion­ship with Adv Moruri as he doesn’t re­mem­ber him. He asked that Ntate Kaya be part of the in­ves­ti­gat­ing team but the cau­cus said there was no need for in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” the source said.

In an in­ter­view with the Le­sotho Times this week, Mr Kaya re­fused to say whether or not he had been in­volved in a heated ex­change of words with Mr Moleleki. He said that the cau­cus de­lib­er­a­tions were se­cret and could not be shared with the me­dia.

“I can’t deny or con­firm any­thing but all I can tell you is that is­sues dis­cussed in the cau­cus meet­ings are se­cret and they should not be shared with the me­dia,” Mr Kaya said.

The Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary, Moahloli Mphaka, re­futed al­le­ga­tions that the gov­ern­ment was di­vided over the PAC is­sue.

“What I heard is that there was a cau­cus in par­lia­ment where the Prime Min­is­ter (Thomas Tha­bane) and other gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tors met and agreed that the PAC will con­tinue its pro­ceed­ings and its pro­ceed­ings would be tele­vised,” Mr Mphaka said.

He said prepa­ra­tions were be­ing made for PAC ses­sions to be held in the se­nate build­ing and funds had been set aside to pur­chase equip­ment to be used dur­ing the PAC pro­ceed­ings.

Mr Moleleki was not reach­able for com­ment on his mo­bile phone.

And on Tues­day, AD Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ma­hali Phamotse told a me­dia brief­ing that the cau­cus dis­cus­sions were con­fi­den­tial and should not be shared with the me­dia.

“I will not dis­close such is­sues. Is­sues dis­cussed in the cau­cus meet­ings are as sa­cred as those dis­cussed dur­ing cab­i­net meet­ings. The cau­cus agrees on some is­sues and dis­agree on oth­ers.

“I trust that par­lia­ment will come up with dis­ci­plinary mea­sures against the per­son leak­ing con­fi­den­tial is­sues dis­cussed dur­ing par­lia­men­tary cau­cus meet­ings,” said Dr Phamotse who is also the Min­is­ter of Gen­der and Youth, Sports and Recre­ation.

She how­ever, said the at­tacks on Mr Moleleki and the AD were part of a “smear cam­paign” by “small cliques” from within and out­side the gov­ern­ment that needed to be quashed.

Dr Phamotse also said that the AD fully sup­ported PAC pro­ceed­ings, adding that it had never blocked its mem­bers from ap­pear­ing be­fore PAC.

Dr Phamotse said AD mem­bers ‘Mabahlakoana Mapetla and Jus­tice Min­istry Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, Le­bo­hang Mochaba, had al­ready ap­peared be­fore the com­mit­tee.

Ms Mapetla, who stands ac­cused of cheat­ing the Mapetla or­phans out of their fa­ther’s in­her­i­tance, is Dr Phamotse’s Pri­vate Sec­re­tary.

She how­ever, de­nied that Adv Moruri was an AD mem­ber. She also said there was noth­ing pe­cu­liar about Mr Moleleki ap­pear­ing in pho­to­graphs with Adv Moruri since the AD leader was a prom­i­nent per­son who took pic­tures with any­one re­gard­less of their so­cial stand­ing.

AD spokesper­son Thuso Litjobo con­curred with Dr Phamotse, adding that he re­mem­bered Adv Moruri from their days at the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Congress (DC) where he was nick­named ‘Test’.

“We left him (Adv Moruri) in Qacha’s Nek with DC and I sus­pect he is still a DC mem­ber. Test is also seen on the pic­tures with the First Lady (‘Mae­sa­iah Tha­bane) and the Prime Min­is­ter (Thomas Tha­bane). Should that be taken as an in­di­ca­tion that he is also an ABC mem­ber,” Mr Litjobo asked rhetor­i­cally.

DEPUTY Prime Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki.

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