Home NewsLocal News ‘Maseribane never squandered NECC funds – Mofomobe

‘Maseribane never squandered NECC funds – Mofomobe

by Lesotho Times
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Nthatuoa Koeshe

BASOTHO National Party (BNP) deputy leader Machesetsa Mofomobe says his party’s leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, never misused any funds meant to fight the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Chief Maseribane chaired the short-lived National Emergency Command Centre (NECC), originally established by ex-premier Thomas Thabane in March 2020 to spearhead the fight against the pandemic.  However, the controversy dogged NECC was disbanded by new Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro in June 2020. It was subsequently replaced by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) headed by Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) boss Thabo Khasipe.

The Lesotho Times last week published a confidential payment schedule submitted to treasury which showed that, before its disbandment, the NECC gobbled about M161 million of the M698 million budgeted for the fight against Covid-19 within the short three-month period of its existence. The expenditure scheduled clearly showed some expenses were grossly inflated.

The Lesotho Times report however never said Chief Maseribane was responsible for abusing any funds.  His picture was published because his name was used in the story as he had led the NECC and publicly spoken about its work. When social media went abuzz after an NECC budget was leaked showing inflation of expenses, Chief Maseribane had called the media to clarify the issue. All that background was included in the Lesotho Times story.  It’s standard practice for newspapers to use pictures of anyone mentioned in a story.

But in a foul-mouthed tirade yesterday Mofomobe, who is now infamous for his lack of decorum despite being a deputy minister of foreign affairs, attacked the Lesotho Times, without using its name, for dragging Chief Maseribane’s name in the mud.  Mofomobe also used unprintable epithets against his rival Joang Molapo during their fight for the BNP leadership last year.

Yesterday, Mofomobe said claims that Chief ‘Maseribane had misappropriated NECC funds were “falsehoods that were being peddled by makoerekoere owned newspapers…”

“The BNP has realised that makoerekoere owned newspapers have a tendency of dragging people’s names in the mud and I am also a victim of that,” Mofomobe said.

“They have a tendency of using Chief ‘Maseribane’s pictures and name but when you read the stories, you do not see the proof that he has misused the funds as alleged,” charged Mofomobe.

Makoerekoere is a derogatory name used to express hatred for foreigners.  It is never used by any self-respecting and decent officials or politicians in public.

BNP’s deputy secretary general, Moeketsi Hanyane, said Chief ‘Maseribane was not in control of the NECC’s funds hence there was no way he could have misappropriated funds.

He urged Prime Minister Majoro to conduct a forensic audit so that whoever is responsible for misusing funds is brought to book.

“We are advising the Prime Minister to conduct a forensic audit so that whoever is responsible for misusing the funds accounts for it and the law takes its course no matter that person’s position,” Mr Hanyane said.

To buttress his claims that Chief ‘Maseribane was not responsible for abusing the NECC’s funds, Mr Hanyane produced a letter from former cabinet principal secretary, Lefu Manyokole, addressed to Dr Majoro, who was at the time finance minister.  Mr Hanyane said the letter indicated that Chief ‘Maseribane was not a signatory for Covid-19 funds and could thus not have been involved in any looting of Covid-19 funds.

Mr Hanyane said there was nowhere in the letter where Mr Manyokole indicated that any Covid-19 funds had been sent to Chief Maseribane resulting in him abusing them.

In response to the BNP press conference yesterday, the Lesotho Times management said it had noted Mr Mofomobe’s abusive posture but the company had decided not to dignify him with any response. Suffice to clarify for the benefit of any readers – who may have missed the original story – that it never accused Chief Maseribane nor anyone else for that matter of abusing funds.

“What we published was a report based on evidence showing that there was abuse of funds as some costs were overly inflated. The report did not mention anyone as having perpetrated the abuse. That information is not yet known and we wait for any credible investigation that will expose the culprits. We will then dutifully name them…,” said Lesotho Times editor Herbert Moyo.

“If he (Mofomobe) takes his time to re-read our story, he will discover that his diatribe was a sheer waste of his time, energy and possibly his party’s paltry resources.

“Our story never said Chief Maseribane stole or abused any money from his leadership of the NECC. Our story explained the wasteful expenditure and profligacy at the NECC based on evidence of its expenditure that was availed to us.

“Chief Maseribane was only mentioned in the story in respect of the comments he had made during his tenure as chairman of the NECC.  His picture was also used on that basis. So contrary to Mofomobe’s understanding of our story, we did not have to produce any proof on an allegation that we did not make.

“Mr Hanyane’s remarks that Dr Majoro ensures a full investigation of the abuse of Covid funds is spot on. When that is done and the culprits are known, we shall dutifully publish their names in line with our motto of reporting without fear or favour.

“Until then, Mofomobe is better advised to keep his anger in abeyance.”

 

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