Molapo barred from ministry office

 

Keiso Mohloboli

ACTING Communications, Science and Technology Minister Joang Molapo has sensationally claimed he was denied entry to his office after it was barricaded by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers allegedly at the instigation of fired minister Selibe Mochoboroane, who had “locked himself in”.

Chief Molapo, who is also Home Affairs minister, recently took over the Communications, Science and Technology portfolio from Education and Training Minister ‘Makabelo Mosothoane following the firing of Mr Mochoboroane by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane on 16 October 2014 for alleged insubordination.

However, according to Chief Molapo, he returned from a lunch break to find the ministry office barricaded by LDF officers ostensibly at the behest of Mr Mochoboroane who has refused to vacate the post after questioning the legitimacy of his dismissal.

“I had some administrative duties to carry out at the Ministry of Communications offices on Monday,” Chief Molapo said in an interview with the Lesotho Times.

“I worked from the minister’s office since eight o’clock in the morning till lunch time. I went out for lunch and, upon my return, was surprised to see armed LDF officers with bulletproof vests surrounding the door to the office.

“I tried to pass through them because I didn’t know what was happening and found the door locked. The LDF officers told me that Mr Mochoboroane was in his office and that I was not allowed in.”

Chief Molapo said he immediately contacted the Acting LDF commander, Major General Khoantle Motšomotšo, and informed him that his officers were denying him access to the office he had been appointed to occupy on 15 January 2015.

“Major General Motšomotšo asked me to leave the place and assured me that he would give me the keys to the office after properly securing the place,” he said.

“Up until today, he has not called me concerning the office keys but I am still waiting.”

Asked on whether Ms Mosothoane relinquished the Communications, Science and Technology portfolio because she was scared of Mr Mochoboroane as alleged in media reports, Chief Molapo was non-committal.

“I don’t know the reasons why Prime Minister Thomas Thabane decided to remove Ms Mosothoane from being acting (Communications) minister and am not involved in his decision-making process,” he said.

“The allegations might have contributed to the PM’s decision but I can’t confirm if they are true or not.”

Contacted for comment yesterday, a defiant Mr Mochoboroane said he was still Minister of Communications, Science and Technology until his court case is finalised “or after the upcoming 28 February National Assembly elections”.

“That rubbish (Chief Joang) is a liar and talks s**t when he says I locked myself in my office,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

“I was informed at around 10 o’clock that Mr Molapo was in my office and 30 minutes later when I arrived he was no longer there. I wanted to confront him for getting into my office without my permission.

“When Mr Molapo came back to the office, he found me in a meeting with the authorities in the Communications ministry, and when I heard that he was outside, I told him to get in but he refused saying he only wanted his i-pad.

“I really wanted him to get into the meeting because I wanted to break his head. That is why I requested for the meeting to be adjourned when I heard he was in the premises. He can’t just get into my office without my authorisation.”

Mr Mochoboroane said he was still Communications minister “until my court case is finalised and I will hand over government property which is with me just after elections before the swearing-in of new cabinet ministers”.

The LCD deputy spokesperson declared that Monday this week was Chief Molapo’s “last day” of entering the office without his permission “until after elections when a new government takes over”.

Last November, the premier filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking an order to compel Mr Mochoboroane to vacate the post. In the application, Dr Thabane wants Mr Mochoboroane to vacate government’s Maseru West residence, and hand over state property in his possession, which includes vehicles and a cell-phone.

However, High Court judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa, dismissed Dr Thabane’s claim that the matter should be treated as urgent on the grounds that it was brought to court almost a month after Mr Mochoboroane had defied the expulsion and postponed the case to March 2015.

 

 

 

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