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Civil servants embroiled in row with accountant

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — Civil servants who are locked in a dispute with some moneylenders over exorbitant interest rates have accused the accountant appointed to recalculate their loans of withholding a report on the results.

A group of more than 100 civil servants had sued Afrisure Personal Financial Advisors (Pty) Ltd, B-Blue Financial Services and Select Management Services for charging exorbitant interest rates of up to 65 percent as opposed to the 25 percent
interest rate stipulated by the law.

The Court of Appeal in October 2010 ruled in favour of the civil servants and ordered that an independent accountant be hired to recalculate the loans at 25 percent interest rate.

The civil servants and the moneylenders then agreed in June last year to hire former Accountant General, Kenneth Hlasa’s firm, GH Consulting (Pty) Ltd, to recalculate the loan amounts.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that the recalculation should show whether the borrowers had already paid their debts or not if their loans were calculated on the basis of the 25 percent interest rate.

But the civil servants are now complaining that Hlasa has only issued certificates showing that the recalculations were made and the lenders have complied with the Court of Appeal judgment.

They say the problem with the certificates without a report is that they are not able to verify if the recalculation was made properly or not.

“Although the deductions have not yet resumed we are concerned about the balances that keep on reflecting on our pay slips,” said one of the civil servants who refused to be named.

“This denies us an opportunity to apply for loans at the banks because of the balances reflected on the pay slips.”

The civil servants further allege that Hlasa is avoiding them.

A committee member of a group of government employees who took the moneylenders to court told the Lesotho Times that the civil servants have lost confidence in the accountant.

“They keep on calling us asking if we have received anything from Mr Hlasa,” said the committee member who refused to be named.

She said Hlasa kept on telling them that he would send them the report but he has still not delivered.

She also said they suspect that Hlasa did not recalculate their loans because what is reflected on their pay slips does not show that the 25 percent interest rate was being used.

“We say this because none of the borrowers was asked to bring a pay slip as the judgment had said.

“The judgment did not say the accountant should verify but it said he should recalculate the loan amounts.

“We were surprised to notice that some of the moneylenders have started writing letters to the borrowers threatening to sue them if they do not start paying their debts.”

Hlasa yesterday refused to comment on the civil servants’ allegations.

He told the Lesotho Times that he did not understand why the civil servants did not raise their concerns with him.

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