’Marafaele Mohloboli and Bereng Mpaki
TRADE and Industry Minister Tefo Mapesela has dissolved the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) board for being appointed by a caretaker government in May this year ahead of the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.
Mr Mapesela yesterday told the Lesotho Times the board was dissolved with effect from Tuesday this week, with an announcement of their replacements set to be made soon.
The LNDC is the country’s premier investment promotion and economic development showcase.
Among its roles is to promote Lesotho as an attractive investment location for both foreign and indigenous investors.
The minister, who was sworn into office on 23 June 2017, said he used his discretionary powers to dissolve the 11-member board which had been appointed on 26 May 2017 by his predecessor, Joshua Setipa.
The seven-party coalition led by former premier Pakalitha Mosisili became a caretaker government after the 6 March 2017 dissolution of the National Assembly following a successful parliament no-confidence vote sponsored by four hitherto opposition parties.
The four parties, namely the All Basotho Convention, Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho, went on to form government after the 3 June 2017 elections, having amassed 63 seats; two more seats than the 61-seat threshold to form government in the National Assembly.
The LNDC board comprised of representatives from the ministries of Trade and Industry, Finance, Agriculture and Food Security as well as Development Planning. It also had a representative of the Tourist Board, Manufacturers Association and another from the Consumer Protection Association.
Three other members are appointed by the minister by virtue of their holding at least 10 percent shares in the LNDC and their skills, knowledge and experience in matters relating to the functions of the corporation.
The dissolved board consisted of Matšeliso Lehohla from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, ’Mamotšelisi Khiba, Stephen Monyamane from the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce, Nchemo Maile from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Nkareng Letsie from the Lesotho Consumer Association, Retšelisitsoe Theko who is the director of Lesotho Manufacturers Association, Lepedi Molapo and Fumane Maema.
“The LNDC board was appointed on 26 May 2017, which was a long way into the transitional period,” Mr Mapesela said.
“Furthermore, most of the positions in the board were still vacant and some of the ministries were not represented.
“I just felt that it was not in the interests of the corporation nor of the people to continue with this board. It would not, in any way, attain the mandate it is entrusted with, hence my decision to dissolve it.”
Instability has rocked the parastatal in recent years, with various boards and chief executive officers being hired, suspended and fired over short periods of time.
Mr Setipa dissolved the LNDC board in April this year for allegedly inflating its sitting allowances to the tune of M1.2 million during their meetings in 2016.
He also approached the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences to probe payments made to board members for the meetings.
The board took the then minister to court challenging his decision to dismiss them in a case that was still pending.
Mr Setipa also suspended the LNDC’s erstwhile CEO, Kelebone Leisanyane, for alleged maladministration. Mr Leisanyane also sought legal recourse but lost the court challenge.