Letšeng Diamonds CEO quits

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Lets'eng Diamonds CEO Mazvi Maharasoa
Lets’eng Diamonds CEO Mazvi Maharasoa

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

LETŠENG Diamonds Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mazvi Maharasoa, has resigned from the post she has held since November 2009, the Lesotho Times can reveal.

Ms Maharasoa, who has been with Letšeng Diamonds since it started mining operations at its mine in Mokhotlong in 2004, notified the company’s staff about her resignation last month after it was approved by the firm’s board of directors.

Ms Maharasoa is, however, expected to leave office early next year, as determined by the board of directors.

It remains unclear why she resigned. Even the “Brief to Staff” note she endorsed on 25 October 2016 to inform company staff about her impending resignation did not give reasons.

The Lesotho Times saw a copy of the note, which states in part: “I have been involved with Letšeng Diamonds since it commenced operations at the Letšeng kimberlite deposit in 2004, and have had the honour of being the Chief Executive Officer since November 2009.

“In that time, I have seen the mine grow from a simple operation producing around 50 000 carats per annum to the phenomenal operation that it is today that moves over 35 million tonnes per annum, provides employment to over 2 500 people and has more than doubled its carat production.”

She says that during the period, the business had delivered “billions of Maloti to the Basotho nation and to its shareholders,” noting the success had been achieved through teamwork and she was proud to have had the opportunity to lead a “competent and happy team”.

Ms Maharasoa also says the experience had not only afforded her “tremendous personal growth” but also enabled her to meet and work with “amazing people from gurus in the global diamond industry to young and enthusiastic Basotho with amazing work ethics, many of whom I have the privilege of now calling friends”.

“The future of Letšeng is exciting and it is at this juncture that I believe a change is due for Letšeng and for me. I wish the company well as it enters this exciting but extremely difficult period of its existence.

“Mining at deeper levels with the concomitant increase in stripping and in costs, coupled with an uncertain global economy will be a great challenge for all involved with Letšeng,” the missive adds.

Letšeng Diamonds Communications and Community Relations Officer Lebohang Chefa yesterday stated in an email response to this publication that: “Please be informed that in respect of your questions, the board of directors is considering issuing an official statement on the matter and we will revert to you as soon as it is available.”

Meanwhile, shortly after the announcement of Ms Maharasoa’s resignation to the staff, the Maluti Community Development Forum (MCDF) – an organisation claiming to represent the Mokhotlong community – wrote a damning letter accusing her of corruption, nepotism and maladministration, among other alleged transgressions.

The letter, dated 31 October 2016, is addressed to the Gem Diamonds Chairman Clifford Elphick, and calls on him to institute an investigation into Ms Maharasoa’s conduct before she leaves office.

Gem Diamonds is a London-listed company which owns 70 percent shares in Letšeng Diamonds, while the government of Lesotho holds the remaining 30 percent.

In the letter endorsed by the MCDF president, Advocate Thabo Lerotholi, the organisation said while it welcomed the “good news of the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Ms Mazvi Maharasoa,” the news had come after a very long time during which she and her management team had done a “lot of damage in terms of the relations between the mine and community”.

“Hope has not been lost though, by our community. There is still a room to mend the rapidly deteriorating relations and confidence in the mine by our community,” the letter states.

“The MCDF wishes to state categorically and on record that the board and the authority of Letšeng Diamonds must commission an investigation of corruption, nepotism, maladministration and abuse of power on the CSRI (Corporate Social Responsibility and Investment) to name a few against Ms Maharasoa and one Mr Tšepo Hlojeng before she can finally leave the company.”

The investigation, Advocate Lerotholi notes, should cover, “exaggerated and inflated costs incurred by the mine on the construction of woolsheds around Mokhotlong, which resulted in serious divisions amongst our community farmers. . .”

“The abuse of power that resulted in serious job discrimination against our local people, the foreigners from nearby African countries especially Zimbabwe where she comes from, who were imported under the pretext of ‘scarce skill and to subsequently do skill transfer to the locals’ only for her to re-send the same non-citizens to different universities to get new training in different fields of specialties instead of the local people who already possess such skills;

Advocate Lerotholi yesterday confirmed writting the letter.

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