BASOTHO National Party (BNP) stalwart Felleng Makeka has accused party leader and Communications minister Thesele ‘Maseribane of using his influence in the Lesotho PostBank to fight his political battles.
This comes after Ms Makeka was this week fired from the PostBank through a letter dated 1 September 2019 and signed by Chief ‘Maseribane. Ms Makeka was fired for sitting on the boards of two financial institutions concurrently in contravention of the Central Bank of Lesotho’s Corporate Governance Guidelines of 2019 which prohibit a person from sitting on the board of two financial institutions.
Ms Makeka was appointed to the PostBank on 5 December 2018. At the time of her appointment, she was already a board member of NBC Insurance Lesotho.
Chief Maseribane’s letter states that the Central Bank of Lesotho subsequently wrote to PostBank alerting the authorities of the irregularity which would likely result in conflict of interest.
“It was stated that your participation in the board of the two financial institutions created a likelihood of conflict of interest on your part and also prohibited in terms (of) the Guidelines on Corporate Governance for banks of 2019,” Chief ‘Maseribane wrote.
“It is our contention that the integrity of the bank should be upheld and comply with the guidelines. Further, the fact that there is a likelihood of conflict of interest on your part by participating in the board of the two financial institutions poses a huge risk to the PostBank.
“In the light of the above, we are left with no alternative but to terminate your appointment as the board member of Lesotho PostBank with effect from the 1st of September 2019,” Chief Maseribane states.
But Ms Makeka believes she has been unfairly treated as she was not given an opportunity to choose which directorship to relinquish in compliance with the corporate governance guidelines that were introduced after she had already been appointed to her second directorship at the Lesotho PostBank.
She told this publication that she had been unfairly treated by Chief Maseribane most likely because of the simmering tensions in the BNP where two distinct factions have emerged ahead of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) elections in November this year. Chief Maseribane is said to be sympathetic to the Bachana (loosely translated to mean cousins) which is solidly behind BNP spokesperson, Machesetsa Mofomobe, in his quest to wrest the deputy leader’s post from the incumbent, Joang Molapo. Chief Molapo is backed by the Macoeshcoesh (those who speak English) faction.
Ms Makeka, who is running for the secretary general’s post, believes Chief Maseribane is victimising her because she has thrown her weight behind Chief Molapo.
She however, said she would not be intimidated against her desire to contest for the secretary general post in November.
“I am a member of BNP in good standing through my subscription like everyone else and no one is going to instill fear in me to deter me from contesting in the elections,” Ms Makeka said.
“I am going to stand for the position of party secretary general and I know that my leader is not happy with it. Though he (Chief ‘Maseribane) has not told me that he is unhappy, he shows it by giving me a cold shoulder all the time, and I know so because I support Morena Joang’s faction, which has become his rival of late,” Ms Makeka added.
She said the decision by Chief ‘Maseribane to expel her from the Lesotho PostBank board was “misdirected and not factual”.
“This is a decision he made unilaterally instead of handling it professionally as warranted. According to the letter from the Central Bank regarding my status on the board, he ought to have given me a chance to choose whether I wanted to remain with the PostBank or the NBC but he didn’t afford me that chance and it is wrong of him.
“I am yet to respond to his letter and challenge his uninformed decision but for now, I still consider myself a board member of the PostBank because I joined the board way before the new regulations were introduced,” Ms Makeka said.
However, Lesotho PostBank managing director Molefi Leqhaoe denied allegations that Ms Makeka’s removal was politically influenced.
“Ms Makeka has been removed purely on the basis of regulatory requirements by the Central Bank. The financial regulations stipulate that no officer or person should hold two directorship positions in two different financial institutions.
“She sat on board of NBC Lesotho Insurance Company and that of PostBank and this matter was brought to her attention early this year, long before her alleged fall-out with her leader. Besides, our decisions as a bank are independent and not influenced by politics.
“The Central Bank brought up the matter of dual directorship early this year and we had pleaded with them to allow us to deliberate on the matter until we found an eligible candidate, and it is only last week that they (Central Bank) reminded us that the issue was pending and of course, we had to act on it,” Mr Leqhaoe said.
He said they have since incorporated two new members into the board, namely Robert Likhang and ’Mampe Mphana, “and this brings the number of directors to six inclusive of me as the MD”.
Chief ‘Maseribane could not be reached for comment this week while Mr Mofomobe’s phone rang unanswered.