SUSPENDED director general of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), Mahlomola Manyokole, has again ripped into Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and former Law and Justice Minister Nqosa Mahao for what he described as their “preposterous and unjustifiable behaviour” in seeking to oust him from his job.
Advocate Manyokole was suspended on 7 January 2021 on allegations of incompetence. He was suspended by the premier on the advice of then Minister Mahao. A tribunal was then set up to probe his fitness to remain in office. But 19 months later, the tribunal is still to complete its work. This after Adv Manyokole challenged its legitimacy in the High Court. The matter is pending.
Adv Manyokole has previously rubbished his suspension, saying Dr Majoro and Prof Mahao were “crusaders of corruption” who had only suspended him because he was investigating them and other high-profile people for corruption.
In an interview this week, Adv Manyokole reignited his feud with the duo. He said he was still struggling to come to terms with the “fact” that the two had the “nerve” to besmirch his reputation with claims that he was incompetent when their real motive was to pave way for a stooge who would do their bidding.
He said he was only suspended after the duo failed in their attempts to micro-manage him and direct him on who to investigate to allegedly settle their political scores.
He alleged that Dr Majoro and Prof Mahao were serious political rivals who did not see eye to eye and had only converged on just one point of trying to get rid of him because he had steadfastly refused to be used by either of them in their political machinations.
“My suspension had nothing to do with incompetence, it was political,” Adv Manyokole said this week.
“I was shocked at one point when Prof Mahao asked me if the DCEO was investigating Dr Majoro on allegations of corruptly awarding a government fleet tender to a local taxi organisation in 2019 when he was still Finance minister. He wanted me to prosecute the prime minister over those allegations. I confirmed that we were working on the case but I could not discuss its merits with him because my office was autonomous. He was not happy with that and that must have strengthened his resolve to suspend me.”
Adv Manyokole said at one time Prof Mahao would constantly harangue him with requests for information regarding former Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Development Planning Minister Selibe Mochoboroane’s treason and murder case. This was despite that the matter was being dealt with by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane, he said.
He said he initially had “a very good relationship with Dr Majoro”.
However, the premier began behaving in the same manner as Prof Mahao, “often interfering with my work by harbouring criminals and protecting them from prosecution”.
He said just like Prof Mahao, Dr Majoro had a habit of asking him about progress in the investigations of cases he had an interest in. He said all this was unprofessional and his resistance to the two powerful politicians led to his suspension as the first step towards their ultimate aim of getting rid of him, he claimed.
He bemoaned the fact that under current laws, DCEO bosses were appointed by prime ministers. He said as long as this continued, it would be difficult for them to operate independently. He said the only way of ensuring their complete independence was if the constitution was amended to ensure their appointments or dismissals only on the recommendations of parliament.
His remarks have provoked an angry response from Prof Mahao. Not only did the latter rubbished Adv Manyokole’s claims, he also threatened to sue him for his “untrue and defamatory allegations”.
“The allegations that he is raising are untrue and defamatory. There was nothing of that sort,” Prof Mahao said of claims that he wanted Adv Manyokole out so the latter’s place could be taken by someone more amenable to serving the former minister’s political interests.
“These are blatant lies. I’m ready to lay charges against him. Whatever action I took to suspend him was guided by recommendations by the DCEO board. Never at any point did I approach him asking for information regarding some high-profile cases as he alleges.
“It’s also not true that I wanted information regarding former deputy Prime Minister Metsing and Minister Mochoboroane’s treason and murder case. I don’t know what Adv Manyokole is talking about. I never had any meeting with him wherein I requested for information that I allegedly purported was wanted by one senator and that I wanted to share with the public at a rally the following day as he alleges,” Prof Mahao said.
He said his run-ins with Adv Manyokole were purely on matters of principle and professionalism. For instance, he said he had learnt from the DCEO board that Adv Manyokole had withdrawn more than 15 cases from the roll and he confronted him to understand circumstances surrounding these actions.
“We clashed over administrative issues, not what he claims,” Prof Mahao said.
He dropped a bombshell of his own, saying he had also discovered that Adv Manyokole had misappropriated M79 000 that was part of evidence in one case. The money was kept in a safe at the DCEO offices, he said.
To cover up for this, Adv Manyokole had allegedly asked one DCEO officer to deposit the same amount in the box.
“But it is not possible to cover up such an action because when evidence in the form of cash is recorded at the start of investigations, the serial numbers are noted down. The notes that were found in the box were not the same as those initially deposited. We discovered this anomaly after Adv Manyokole had already been suspended,” Prof Mahao said.
He said Adv Manyokole only raised allegations against them after the government had indicated its intention to suspend him for alleged incompetence.
“It’s not true that he was suspended because he was investigating Dr Majoro on allegations of corruptly awarding a government fleet tender to a local taxi organisation in 2019. It’s also false that I wanted him to prosecute the prime minister over those allegations.”
The Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader said Adv Manyokole’s latest allegations were part of an attempt to derail his campaign efforts ahead of the October elections, adding “I will not allow it.”
In a separate interview, Dr Majoro’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, said the prime minister would not comment on Adv Manyokole’s allegations because the latter was already being probed by a three-member tribunal headed by retired Judge Teboho Moiloa. Other members of the tribunal are High Court Judge Polo Banyane and retired judge, Semapo Peete.
“Adv Manyokole’s allegations are part of his founding affidavit. Therefore, the prime minister cannot comment on them as the matter is still before the tribunal.
“Dr Majoro respects the rule of law and he will allow due legal processes to run their full course until the tribunal makes a final ruling on the case,” Mr Moseme said.