Mapesela, Mahapa allege army jobs scam
FORMER Defence and National Security Minister, Tefo Mapesela, has accused the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) of corruptly handing out posts in the army to supporters of the main opposition — the Democratic Congress (DC).
Mr Mapesela made the claims in a leaked recorded telephone conversation with an aspiring LDF recruit who failed to make the cut. This followed the publication of the Defence ministry’s shortlist of candidates who have to go for medical examinations ahead of the LDF’s recruitment exercise for the 2019/20 financial year.
The shortlist was produced on 3 October 2019 – the day that Mr Mapesela was moved from the Defence ministry to the Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Mapesela, the Mokhotlong legislator in Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), was not alone in alleging political bias in the LDF recruitment exercise. Mothepu Mahapa, the Tele constituency legislator representing Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD), made similar claims in leaked audio clip to his followers last week.
Mr Moleleki made similar accusations against the previous Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition in 2017.
The outspoken Mr Mapesela who was appointed to the defence portfolio in December 2018, had a tumultuous relationship with the security chiefs, particularly the LDF commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, who he often accused of defying his authority as the civilian boss. He said by defying him, Lt-Gen Letsoela and other security chiefs had become rebels whose conduct could lead to the collapse of a democratically elected government.
He was moved from the defence portfolio by Dr Thabane who assumed the post himself in last week’s cabinet reshuffle. However, his departure appears to have done nothing to silence him as he continues taking pot-shots at the LDF command. In the audio clip that was leaked early this week, Mr Mapesela is heard telling the caller, one Thabiso Motšoane, that the list of names that he (Mr Mapesela) had forwarded to the LDF for recruitment was discarded by the LDF command.
It appears Mr Motšoane, who hails from Mr Mapesela’s Mokhotlong constituency, had called the minister to find out why he had not made it to the LDF shortlist.
“I am Thabiso Motšoane from Salang (Mokhotlong),” Mr Motšoane is heard saying to Mr Mapesela in the audio.
“We received the list (of LDF candidates) and we discovered that we are not on the list. They have only taken those DC members. What solution are we going to come up with Ntate Pesi (Mapesela’s nickname)?”
Mr Mapesela replies by saying that the list of people that he had recommended for hiring was thrown in the dustbin after he was reshuffled from the Defence ministry.
“My list was thrown in a dustbin. They removed me from that (defence) ministry yesterday (Thursday). They said that they threw away the list after I was removed from there. I was removed yesterday and they announce the list on a holiday. How did that happen because the (LDF) offices are closed on holidays?
“They have only hired Mapotoana (nickname for DC members). I don’t know what is going to happen because it is not only Mokhotlong people (that were not shortlisted). Other parliamentarians and ministers are also not happy. They said we will meet and we will discuss what solution we can come up with,” Mr Mapesela is heard saying.
His claims were dismissed by DC spokesperson, Serialong Qoo, who said the minister always made baseless allegations against the DC “after consuming drugs”.
“He (Mr Mapesela) is being nonsensical. Every time he uses drugs, he makes baseless allegations against the DC. Our leader (Mathibeli Mokhothu) has vowed to depoliticise all the security agencies when he takes over as prime minister,” Mr Qoo said.
Mr Mapesela was not alone in alleging political bias in the LDF recruitment exercise. The AD’s Mothepu Mahapa, who is also the deputy minister of Education and Training, is heard telling members of an AD WhatsApp group that he would make a follow-up after the names he forwarded for recruitment into the army were ignored.
Mr Mahapa however, sounded angry at the suggestions by some supporters that he had not done enough to ensure AD supporters were hired.
“I made a request on behalf of (AD) people and I am currently making a follow-up on what happened to the people (whose names he forwarded). Despite this, there are already negative views in here (WhatsApp group) and I am watching you. If you think there will ever come a time where I will kneel before you, know that I will never do that.
“The fact is I love whoever loves me and support whoever supports me. If you feel you have an issue with me, know that I couldn’t care less. I don’t understand what you expect me to do for people to be hired in the army. Must I write an interview on your behalf?
“When people are hired, there are complaints. When something is done, there are complaints and I must tell you that these people wrote and passed the interview on their own. However, there are people that we recommended for the job. But I am not working at the Defence ministry nor am I the one hiring,” Mr Mahapa is heard saying in the leaked audio clip.
Both Messrs Mapesela and Mahapa were not reachable on their mobile phones for comment on their claims.
Their comments however, suggest political meddling in the recruitments to security agencies.
Mr Moleleki made similar claims against the then seven parties’ coalition in 2017.
In March 2017, Mr Moleleki accused the then Mosisili-led coalition of corruptly handing out posts in the security agencies to their supporters.
Mr Moleleki served as the Police and Public Safety minister in the Mosisili regime which comprised of the DC, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), Basotho Congress Party (BCP), National Independence Party (NIP) and the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP).
Mr Moleleki, who had just dumped the DC to form the AD, revealed that he had been part of “a corrupt act” of enlisting 250 police recruits from the seven parties’ support base to undergo training at the Police Training College (PTC) in 2016.
“I am one of the people in government that made 22 000 young men and women to wait for long hours in the sun in the hope they would get jobs when we knew we already had our people listed somewhere for the police jobs,” he said.
“I dare Ntate Mosisili and company to come here and tell me I am lying over this. We did this together. We received 22 000 applications from across the country when there were only 250 vacancies available at the PTC. Young Basotho waited in the sun for days hoping to get a job, but we, together with Ntate Mosisili, had already divided the vacancies among ourselves to say DC was going to get 181, LCD 45 and so on. I decided to walk out of such embarrassing corruption.”
He further stated that there were 100 vacancies at the Lesotho Correctional Service “and those too were divided among the parties in government”.
However, Dr Mosisili’s then advisor, Dr Fako Likoti dismissed Mr Moleleki’s utterances, saying: “Ntate Moleleki seems to be gathering everything and anything to portray the (Mosisili) government as bad…but the fact of the matter is that he cannot provide proof of what he is saying”.