Home NewsLocal News Mining sector enmeshed in corruption – Moleko 

Mining sector enmeshed in corruption – Moleko 

by Lesotho Times
0 comment

—as DCEO probes mining department officials for demanding bribes 

Mohloai Mpesi/Letsatsi Selikoe 

Natural Resources Minister, Mohlomi Moleko, says the country’s mining sector is enmeshed in corruption which he is struggling to control. 

He says the rampant corruption in the mining sector puts the country at a disadvantage, threatening foreign direct investment (FDI) as investors are reluctant to inject their money in a sector plagued by graft. 

Mr Moleko said this in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.He spoke ahead of the much awaited mining indaba (Khotla) expected to bring together industry leaders, investors, senior government officials and other relevant stakeholders to explore opportunities for investment in the sector, at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre, next week.   

Mr Moleko expressed concern on the “rampant corruption” that he said was being committed with impunity in the mining sector. 

He said some government officials took advantage of investors and others when they apply for a mining lease and license. They “coerce” such investors into paying out bribe money before providing them with services. 

Mr Moleko said his ministry had since engaged the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offence (DCEO) to probe unscrupulous activities within the mining sector.      

“I am currently fighting civil servants from selling prospecting licenses. You would find that they have given you a prospecting license and when you are supposed to get the mining lease, they refuse to grant it to you,” Mr Moleko said. 

“You hear that someone else has got it through other means. We have such cases; some are in court and others are still being investigated by the DCEO because we don’t want this corruption.” 

It was imperative that government fought the corruption that had seemingly deepened its roots in Lesotho to boost investor confidence, Mr Moleko said. 

“We must fight this corruption so that people know that they get real help when they come to our offices, instead of this ‘If, I approve your mining lease, how much do you give me?’ attitude. We are serious and we are not going to play games,” he said. 

“In this ministry, I must ensure that it happens (eradication of corruption). There are a lot of cases in the mines. There is a lot of corruption.” The tragedy about corruption, Mr Moleko said, was that investors would identify Lesotho as a potential place to invest in, come into the country after being assured that our country is open for business only to turn away when civil servants to demand bribes. 

“When investors come to our offices to seek services, they get the shock of their lives when civil servants demand bribes,” Mr Moleko said. 

“These are the issues that destroy this country. We are a country of only two million people. That means every Mosotho should be driving a Rolls Royce vehicle at least. But that is not the case.” 

The natural resources minister further charged that Lesotho’s police officers were at the forefront of perpetuating corrupt activities, scaring investors from injecting their money in the country. 

According to Mr Moleko, the infamous culture of police demanding bribes, hindered the country’s progress.   

“Sometimes we don’t make a conducive environment for investment. A tourist crosses the border and before arriving in Berea, two police officers have demanded a bribe. That attitude  is very bad,”  Mr Moleko said. 

“Demanding bribes is a demonic culture reigning in this country. It is hampering progress and achieving beautiful things…. 

“We have to work hard as a government to stop this behaviour so that tourists can leave this country happily.” 

He added corruption had become a cancer because the vice had gone unchecked for too long. 

“Nothing is as heart-breaking as hearing of negative outcomes from what you would have expected to have been a huge deal for our people,” the minister said. 

“Let me give you an example with people who attended the last Braai Festival. Tourists were complaining about bribes they were forced to pay from the minute they crossed into the country. 

“That’s one thing that’s pulling our country back. We are scaring off people from wanting to come here……” 

He said the onus was on the government to ensure that if one applied for a mining license, they followed all the required procedures and they were granted licenses “without having to pay bribes”. 

The Lesotho Timesfollowed up Mr Moleko’s interview with DCEO Spokesperson Matlhokomelo Senoko, to ascertain if they were indeed investigating mining sector related graft cases. 

She confirmed that the anti-graft body was indeed investigating civil servants in the Ministry of Natural Resources on allegations that they demanded bribes from potential investors applying for mining licenses. 

“Yes, we have such cases in the office. They are still in the investigation process,” Ms Senoko said. 

“There are several cases, but I can’t delve into details because they are still under investigation. Some of them have just been lodged and have just been allocated for investigation recently.” 

Independent local economist, Letsatsi Sephepha, echoed Mr Moleko’s sentiments, saying deeply rooted corruption in Lesotho had delayed the development and opening of new mines. 

Lesotho currently has four operational mines in which government owns a 30% stake with investors holding the remaining 70%. These mines combined, according to Mr Moleko, contribute significantly to Lesotho’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

“Corruption in the form of bribes has crippled the mining sector. That is why the sector does not grow in Lesotho. It is hindered by the fact that those who are supposed to provide administrative services, demand their share before real work gets underway,” Mr Sephepha said. 

“We could be mining gold now because a survey was conducted which confirmed that there is gold in Lesotho. We could be mining coal and oil in Lesotho. 

“But we cannot. Progress is hampered by the incessant thirst and demands for bribes. They scare off the potential investors. They are reluctant to come to Lesotho because they are required to pay bribes in exchange for legitimate services.”   

According to Mr Sephepha, if the corruption continued unchecked, it would kill all efforts to create jobs in a country grappling a skyrocketing unemployment rate. 

“That form of corruption itself kills job creation and unemployment increases. In an ideal world, unemployment should be eradicated through job creation. But that is not the case because of the bad service delivery by relevant government departments,” Mr Sephepha said. 

“This continuing bribery in the mining sector will lead to a point whereby these mines that we have end up shutting down and there are no new ones to continue. 

“Corruption itself kills the moral and interest of investors who may have potential to open the new mines so that the country can earn more revenues.” 

According to a report published in July 2018 by Jonathan Rugman of key international news channel, Channel 4 News, not only civil servants were enmeshed in corruption in Lesotho but ministers and Members of Parliament “also smell of rot”. 

Rugman’s report accused former cabinet minister and ex-Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele Maseribane, of involvement in corruption after “receiving bribes” from British businessperson Arron Banks. 

The report alleged that Banks had paid 19 000 British pounds to Mr Maseribane to secure prospecting licences for alluvial diamonds at Sebapala in Quthing District. 

Both Mr Maseribane and Banks denied the allegations, saying the money had been intended to sponsor Mr Maseribane’s political campaigns. 

The allegations were also widely reported in local media. 

 

You may also like

Leave a Comment

About Us

We’re a media company. We promise to tell you what’s new in the parts of modern life that matter. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit.