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Thotanyana sues NRA

Mohalenyane Phakela

FORMER mining minister, Lebohang Thotanyana, has dragged the National Reforms Authority (NRA) to court over what he claims to be his “unclear” disqualification from the list of candidates for the authority’s chief executive officer (CEO).

The mandate of the NRA is “to provide for the management, coordination and leadership of the reforms process”. The multi-sector reforms were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016 as part of efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability in Lesotho.

Mr Thotanyana, who joined the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) from the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) in June 2019, had applied for the CEO’s post.

However, he was disqualified by the NRA selection panel before the interviews got underway on Monday.

Unhappy with the move, Mr Thotanyana yesterday filed an urgent High Court application to stop the recruitment process.

He argues that he was not given any reasons for his disqualification even though the National Reforms Authority Act of 2019 states that the processes of appointing NRA staff, including the CEO, must be transparent.

The NRA, the NRA selection panel for the CEO and Deputy CEO, Law and Justice Minister Professor Nqosa Mahao, Attorney General Advocate Haae Phoofolo and the Institute of Development Management (IDM) are the first to fifth respondents respectively.

Messrs Koenane Leanya, Tsiu Khathibe, Mafiroane Motanyane, Selebalo Ntepe and Mawinie Kanetsi who were shortlisted and interviewed for the CEO’s post on Monday have been cited as sixth to 10th respondents respectively.

In his court papers, Mr Thotanyana states that section 14(1)(a) of the NRA Act states that, “The CEO and the Deputy CEO of the NRA shall be appointed by the authority through a fair and transparent process”.

“My disqualification is not a product of a transparent and clear criteria…

“The notion of fairness and transparency in the conduct of the appointment process begins from the phase of shortlisting candidates right through to the interviewing process. Those who are disqualified from the interviewing process must be eliminated on the basis of an open and transparent criteria which is open to scrutiny.

“The shortlisted candidates whose interviews have since been conducted were selected on the basis of a procedure which remains unknown not only to the members of the NRA as a whole but also to myself as an applicant,” Mr Thotanyana states in his founding affidavit.

Mr Thotanyana further argues that the shortlisting process should not have been conducted solely by the NRA’s selection panel and the IDM. He argues that the NRA’s 59 members drawn from the government, the country’s various political parties and non-governmental organisations should have also been involved in the process.

“It is imperative to assert that the recruitment, shortlisting and eventual appointment of the CEO and Deputy CEO of the institution is a major decision that cannot be exclusively owned by the second respondent (NRA selection panel).

“In actual fact, the entire process commencing from the shortlisting right through to the appointment, requires the quorum of thirty-one members and the decisions of the first respondent (NRA) require to be taken by two-thirds majority of the NRA members present and voting.

“In this instance, the chairperson of the first respondent — Chief Pelele Letsoela — deprived the members of the NRA an opportunity and platform to question and probe the applications presented by myself and other applicants and subject them to collective scrutiny,” Mr Thotanyana states.

He therefore wants the High Court to issue an interim order blocking the NRA from proceeding with the recruitment process until the finalisation of his application.

In terms of final order, he wants the court to nullify his disqualification. He also wants the recruitment process to be re-done with him as a candidate.

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