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M500 000 camels bill for Mosisili

by Lesotho Times
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By Billy Ntaote

MASERU — Parliament’s public accounts committee wants former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to repay the M569 315.00 government spent on the maintenance of his five camels over a period of five years.

Mosisili was presented with the animals in January 2008 by then Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi.

The camels were subsequently kept by the Ministry of Agriculture until Mosisili took them away two years ago after he left office following the May 26 2012 general elections, which his Democratic Congress (DC) failed to win by an outright majority for it to remain in government.

In its report tabled before parliament on Tuesday, the committee recommends Mosisili reimburses government the said amount, and also attacks him for taking the camels as a personal gift.

“Since government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, did not resist the repossession of these camels by the former Prime Minister, it must demand the repayment of their maintenance costs for the period they spent under government care,” notes the report, while further observing this was not the first time a Lesotho premier was given a present by another head of state.

“Dr Leabua Jonathan was presented with a bulletproof Mercedes Benz by the late Shah of Iran in the 1970s, but he never considered it his personal gift but rather, that it belonged to the state because it was given to him in his capacity as prime minister.
“This comparison is not intended to question the choice of the Right Honourable Dr Mosisili but since he considers the animals as a personal gift, he must pay back the expenses which the government incurred in their maintenance.
“Government officials and the then Minister of Agriculture, based on their response to a parliamentary question on 11 November 2010, were under the impression that the camels belonged to the Government of

Lesotho and, as a result, their upkeep was placed under the budget of the ministry of agriculture.
“The budget included the training of a veterinary doctor and three other officers in Botswana, who would look after them because they were foreign to our country.”

However, the committee said on December 12, 2012, Mosisili’s son, Rethabile, arrived at the Livestock Department in Maseru where the camels were being kept, loaded them into two trucks and took the animals to his father’s homestead in Qacha’s Nek.

Contacted for comment, Rethabile Mosisili, who is deputy principal secretary in the ministry of gender, youth, sports and recreation, yesterday said: “I haven’t seen the Public Accounts Committee report that you are referring to, but the fact of the matter is that the camels are Ntate Mosisili’s private property and not government property”.

Mosisili further said he was given a “transport permit” by the Ministry of Agriculture when the camels were released.

“When they arrived here, the government decided to quarantine those camels so they could be inspected to ensure they did not bring any diseases into our country. They were there because government had quarantined them and not because they were government property,” Mosisili said, adding he could not understand why the committee would demand the reimbursement of the money.

“I don’t understand why the committee would demand the maintenance-expenses to be repaid when the camels were in quarantine. They had been quarantined like any other animal, which the ministry would need to feed during its confinement period.”

Mosisili further told the Lesotho Times anyone could see the camels at his homestead in Qacha’s Nek.

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