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BAC blasts anti-corruption body

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — The opposition Basutoland African Congress (BAC) party wants the director-general of the anti-corruption directorate, Leshoele Thoahlane, to resign.

The BAC accused Thoahlane of deliberately frustrating efforts to investigate the alleged looting of the block farming programme.

The block farming scandal broke in February this year when former trade minister Mpho Malie accused some government ministers of looting the farming funds.

Malie accused some mentors of the farming programme of abusing the funds and using the money for purposes it was not intended for.

BAC deputy leader, Mohopolo Macheli, said although they had made a call to the anti-corruption directorate to probe the allegations, the directorate had not shown any interest in probing the matter.

“I therefore call for the anti-corruption director, Leshoele Thoahane, to resign because he has failed in his mandate to follow up on the misuse of public funds,” Macheli said.

“Malie rightfully pointed out that fraud, corruption and money laundering might have been committed with the funds meant for the block farming project.

“The directorate has refused to launch an investigation into the allegations and even lacked the decency to respond to the letter the BAC wrote advising that they probe the issue.”

Macheli claimed all government institutions mandated to fight corruption “just did not want to give their attention to the allegations”.

“The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has also refused to work on the matter but instead referred us back to the anti-corruption (unit).

“They obviously take this subject lightly,” Macheli said.

“The block farming issue is being suppressed by this government because their high-ranking officials are involved. But we will not stop talking until justice is served.”

Macheli also alleged that parliament’s Public Accounts Portfolio Committee (PAC) had also failed to deal with the matter.

Macheli lashed out at Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili for defending the block farming programme as “an excellent programme that had been poorly implemented”.

“He should elaborate what he means when he says it was not properly implemented. Huge chunks of money were obviously diverted from the project to other things,” Macheli said.

When Malie blew the whistle, he said, he talked about corruption and fraud.

“It was Mosisili’s duty as prime minister to react to those allegations. But he didn’t.

“How are we therefore expected to see the purported goodness of block farming?” Macheli asked.

He said his party, which has a single member in parliament, did not plan to raise the issue of Thoahlane’s resignation because “the BAC has no voice in parliament”.

“There is no harm in trying, but what’s the use if we are always turned down regarding smaller issues?” Macheli said.

“There’s no hope of getting support in parliament. We are always outvoted on such issues.”

He also did not have hope that opposition parties would rally behind their call for Thoahlane’s ouster.

“Opposition parties in Lesotho act like small islands. They isolate themselves . . . They want you to go down on your knees and beg them for help,” he said.

Efforts to contact Thoahlane to respond to the BAC charges failed last night.

But the anti-corruption director for public education and corruption prevention, Litelu Ramokhoro, berated the BAC for jumping to conclusions “without viable facts to back them up”.

“As a government in waiting, should the BAC be conducting itself in this manner? I am afraid they will lose credibility. I believe their approach on this matter is totally misguided,” Ramokhoro said yesterday.

“Macheli is not aware whether or not an investigation has been launched already. If he said he had tried to seek audience with the director-general and was turned down, maybe he would be justified.”

“To my knowledge, there’s no way that the director-general could have refused to grant them audience or turned them away,” Ramokhoro said.

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