. . . trade minister sucked in
MASERU — Trade and Co-operatives Minister Popane Lebesa has been sucked into the dispute threatening to tear apart Boliba Savings and Credit (BSC) as the battle for control of the credit union intensifies.
BSC is owned by the Boliba Multipurpose Co-operative Society (BMCS).
About 48 000 people are said to be saving their monies with BSC.
The row which is threatening the collapse of the union was sparked by the BMCS board’s decision to suspend BSC chief executive officer Teboho Sopeng for allegedly tinkering with financial statements.
Sopeng was also accused of fiddling with financial figures to give the impression that BSC was insolvent and should therefore be liquidated.
He was suspended in February. The board’s decision has deepened the rift between the co-operative members who have been fighting for the past three years.
BMCS members opposed to the suspension of Sopeng have appealed to the co-operatives minister to intervene.
The faction wants Lebesa to order the commissioner of co-operatives, ’Maphamoli Lekoetje, to convene a special BMCS general meeting so that they could reverse the decision to suspend Sopeng.
Six members of the pro-Sopeng faction wrote a letter to Lebesa two weeks ago requesting him to intervene because the BMCS board, chaired by Leonia Mosothoane, allegedly
Boliba row rages ignored their petition by “playing technical delays deliberately”.
In their petition the members have asked the board to convene a general meeting to explain why Sopeng was suspended.
They also want to know why Sopeng was replaced by Mosehle Khalema who they allege has been fired from his position as a BCS branch manager in 2006.
The members are also unhappy that the commissioner failed to deal with their problem.
“We come to you because the board of management of Boliba Multipurpose Co-operative Society and the Commissioner of Co-operatives have both failed to address our concerns,” reads part of the letter.
“We are of the opinion that they are playing technical delays deliberately.”
The group says on March 1, two days after Sopeng was booted out, the board wrote to all members announcing its decision.
On March 4 the group petitioned the board to reverse its decision.
The board replied on March 12 stating its reasons for suspending Sopeng but that explanation did not calm the faction which instead wrote to Lekoetje on March 16 seeking her intervention.
Lekoetje invited them to her office on April 7 but that meeting did not help matters.
Still dissatisfied, the faction wrote to Lekoetje again on April 13 but her reply on April 19 only infuriated the members who decided to write to the minister.
“All issues raised during our deliberations and correspondence with the commissioner of co-operatives showed clearly that she does not appreciate the seriousness, sensitivity and urgency of our concerns,” reads their letter to Lebesa.
BMCS chairperson Mosothoane told the Lesotho Times last week that the petitioners did not bother to attend a meeting the board had called for April 25 despite having been invited.
The April 25 meeting confirmed the board’s decision to suspend Sopeng.
Defending their decision to elbow out Sopeng and appoint Khalema as acting CEO, Mosothoane said: “The previous CEOs messed up Boliba and Khalema was the only person who was a suitable candidate for the position.
“He has always been working hard towards the success of this co-operative ever since its inception until he left in 2006.
“We called him when things turned sour and he was our only link to success.
“These others could not be trusted.”