…former MP threatens legal action after bank rejects application
Former Senkatana leader, Lehlohonolo Tšehlana, has reacted angrily to a letter his employer wrote to a local bank regarding his suspension from duty, resulting in the rejection of his application for a M150 000 loan.
Tšehlana is Project Manager with the Poverty Reduction Programme (PREP), which falls under the Prime Minister’s Office but was suspended on 11 May this year for allegedly “bringing the Office of the Prime Minister into disrepute”.
According to his letter of suspension and endorsed by PREP Director Topollo Lephatšoe, the former All Basotho Convention and Lesotho Congress for Democracy Member of Parliament (MP) was being sent home on full pay “for a period not exceeding three months commencing 13 May 2015”, and would be hauled before a disciplinary committee.
Among his alleged crimes, Mr Tšehlana is accused of not respecting his superiors.
However, after applying for a loan from a local bank (name withheld for professional reasons) the institution sought confirmation of Mr Tšehlana’s employment.
And in response, Human Resource Manager ’Makhotso Liphoto, on 5 June 2015 wrote to the bank, noting: “This is to confirm that Mr Lehlohonolo Tšehlana is employed by the Prime Minister’s Office on contract from May 2014 to April 2017. He is currently on suspension pending disciplinary action.”
After the bank subsequently turned down his loan application, Mr Tšehlana is now accusing the Office of sabotage, and in a letter dated 18 June 2015 and addressed to Ms Liphoto, declares: “Following the letter you wrote to ….bank on 5 June 2015, I am writing this letter to you, requesting your explanation on the following issues: First, I am so shocked by what you call my suspension from work as I have not received any letter from you notifying me about such a decision.
“The only letter I received relating to the said suspension was from someone identifying himself/herself as a certain Topollo Lephatšoe, who could not explain further who he or she was. Although the letter bore the national emblem (indicating it was official), I am still wondering whether this person is a man, woman, boy or girl! Again, I am still shocked and keep asking myself how this Topollo Lephatšoe can suspend me when I am employed in the Office of the Prime Minister, not his or hers!
“After this letter, I was yet again surprised when I was refused entry into my office by security guards who told me they had received instructions from Principal Secretary (PS) to block my way. Following the letter you wrote to the bank about my suspension, I thought it was necessary for me to ask you these questions:
“First; was this person, Topollo Lephatšoe, instructed by yourself to write the suspension letter? Second, what is the relationship between Topollo Lephatšoe and the employer? Third; is Topollo Lephatšoe a male or female? Fourth; if your answer from my first question is yes, are you aware that the sixth paragraph of Lephatšoe’s letter is defamatory, insulting and degrading to my integrity?
“Fifth; if your answer from my first question is no, can you explain clearly what you meant by my suspension in the letter you wrote to the bank on 5 June 2015…? Sixth; would I be wrong to sue both you and Topollo Lephatšoe for bringing my name into disrepute through the letter dated 11 May 2015 (notifying him of his suspension)? Seventh; are you aware that Mr Lephatšoe (Director of PREP) also wrote a letter to inform me about my suspension yet I have not received any letter of my suspension from the employer?
“Eighth; are you aware that with your letter dated 5 June 2015 you have actually blocked my opportunity to live, such that the bank, which ought to offer me a M150 000 loan, has since dismissed my application? Ninth; would I be wrong to sue you and your office for blocking my chances of receiving the M150 000 and claim it from your pocket?”
Mr Tšehlana concluded his letter by giving Ms Liphoto a seven-day deadline “from the day you receive this letter, failing which I will be left with no choice but to institute legal action.”
The Lesotho Times yesterday made repeated efforts to seek comment from Mr Lephatšoe and Ms Liphoto without success, while Mr Tšehlana confirmed the dispute with his employer over the loan issue.