Ministers, PSs fail to declare assets

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Pascalinah Kabi

THE Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is unhappy with the majority of cabinet ministers and principal secretaries (PSs) who have still not declared their assets to the anti-graft body since the inception of the governing coalition in May 2020.

The anti-corruption agency views the government officials’ declaration of their assets as essential to its efforts to fight rampant graft in state institutions.

Its unhappiness with the ministers, PSs and other government officials’ failure to declare their assets is captured in a 20 October 2021 letter by acting DCEO Director General, Sefako Seema, to the government secretary, Lerotholi Pheko. At the time the letter was written, the only members of cabinet who had declared their assets were Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro; his deputy, Mathibeli Mokhothu; and ministers, Nkaku Kabi (Agriculture and Food Security) and Lekhetho Rakuoane (Law and Justice).

The PSs who had declared their assets are Nthoateng Lebona (Finance), Khothatso Tšooana (Health), Mamonyane Bohloko (Defence and National Security), Thabo Motoko (Foreign Affairs and International Relations), Themba Sopeng (Energy and Meteorology) and Kabelo Lehora (Cabinet).

Other senior government officials who have declared their assets are directors Moshoeshoe Phalatsa, Pete Ramalitse, Mphohla Metsing, Retšelisitsoe Khoalenyane and Lucia Phakisi.

The ministers who had not declared their assets by 20 October 2021 were Samuel Rapapa (Communications, Science and Technology), Motlalentoa Letsosa (Home Affairs), Motlohi Maliehe (Forestry , Range and Soil Conservation), Halebonoe Setšabi (Defence and National Security), Lehlohonolo Moramotse (Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs), Serialong Qoo (Mining), Matebatso Doti (Social Development), Tšoeu Mokeretla (Transport), Thabo Sophonea (Finance), Ntlhoi Motsamai (Tourism, Environment and Culture), Semano Sekatle (Health), Likeleli Tampane (Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation), Machesetsa Mofomobe (Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing), Likopo Mahase (Prime Minister’s office), Selibe Mochoboroane (Development Planning), Keketso Sello (Public Service), ‘Matšepo Ramakoae (Foreign Affairs and International Relations), ‘Mamookho Phiri (Education and Training), Lebohang Monaheng (Public Works), Moshe Leoma (Labour and Employment), Kemiso Mosenene (Water Affairs), Lepota Sekola (Police and Public Safety), Mohapi Mohapinyane (Energy and Meteorology) and Thabiso Molapo (Trade and Industry).

The PSs who had not declared their assets were Adv Mole Khumalo (Forestry), Malefetsane Nchaka (Water), Retired Colonel Tanki Mothae (Police), Tšokolo Maina (Mining), Nthabiseng ‘Mantsenki Sekete-Mphalane (Social Development), Dira Khama (Education), Dr John Oliphant (Higher Education), Moliehe Moejane (Gender), ‘Mamoeketsi Ntho (Tourism), Maile Masoebe (Transport), Nchaka Makara (Agriculture), Francis Sefali (Trade), Nonkululeko Zaly (Local Government) and Retšelisitsoe Mohale (Law).

In his 20 October 2021 letter to the government secretary, Adv Seema, states that, “Your good office is, as usual requested to assist the Directorate with facilitating the declaration of assets by senior government officials”.

“This is a follow-up to our letter dated 12 April 2021. To date, we have received not more than 10 forms (of assets declarations) and this signifies the extent to which anti-corruption initiative is perceived.

“May we separate the sections by turns, starting with ministers and principal secretaries who have not declared. Their filled forms are expected to reach this office by 5 November 2021. Furthermore, this office requests principal secretaries to submit lists and contacts (cell numbers and email addresses) of directors and heads of departments under their ministries for easy facilitation of the process,” Adv Seema further states.

DCEO spokesperson, ‘Matlhokomelo Senoko, yesterday said more government officials had since declared their assets. However, she refused to say who had since complied. She said those who had not done so had been given until tomorrow to comply.

“The deadline for submitting the declaration forms was initially 5 November 2021 and a significant number of those who had not declared have since complied. However, there are still some who have not declared their assets and they asked to be given until 12 November 2021. The deadline has since been extended to that day,” Ms Senoko said in an interview with the Lesotho Times.

On Monday, Mr Pheko wrote a memorandum to all PSs informing them that they had been given until tomorrow to submit their assets declaration forms.

“As a result of non-compliance, a new deadline for the submission of all declaration forms to the DCEO head office is Friday 12 November 2021,” Mr Pheko said.

A government official, who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the government officials’ reluctance to declare their assets raised questions about their integrity.

“The subtle refusal to declare assets by senior government officials raises a lot of questions in light of the rampant corruption in this country. Why would a minister or a PS find it difficult to declare their assets if their hands are clean? If they have not corruptly acquired anything, they shouldn’t have problems declaring what they own,” the government official said.

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