FORMER premier Pakalitha Mosisili’s son, Rethabile, has been fired from the influential and plum post of chief delegate for the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC), as the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane-led government steps up its purge of vestiges of the previous regime.
Mr Mosisili, who had been controversially appointed to the post in April this year, has been sent back to his previous position as deputy principal secretary (PS) in the Water Affairs ministry.
Acting Government Secretary, Emmanuel Lesoma, this week confirmed the development in an interview with the Lesotho Times, saying Mr Mosisili’s appointment to the influential post had not been approved by the Public Service Commission and thus null and void.
“Mr Mosisili was served with a letter to refer him back to his former post,” he said.
“The reason being that his secondment to the post of chief delegate was never approved by the Public Service Commission as ought to have been the case.
“To date, there has not been such an approval, which is a procedural requirement.”
When contacted yesterday, Mr Mosisili refused to comment on the matter, telling this reporter: “I am busy eating, don’t disturb me.”
The LHWC is the largest infrastructure partnership between the Lesotho and South African governments, and consists of three delegates from each of the two nations. The commission is tasked with implementing the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) — a multiphase initiative comprising several dams and tunnels in Lesotho and South Africa.
The LHWC is accountable to the two governments for the overall implementation of the LHWP. It advises, monitors and has approval powers on activities of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) and the operations and maintenance function of the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority, the two authorities charged with the implementation of the LHWP in Lesotho and South Africa respectively.
It is currently tasked with overseeing the estimated M26 billion second phase of the LHWP aimed at alleviating South Africa’s acute fresh water shortages.
Mr Mosisili was appointed to the post in April this year by then Water Affairs minister Kimetso Mathaba. Sources privy to the matter had told this publication Mr Mathaba was initially reluctant to appoint Mr Mosisili. However, the sources said Dr Mosisili had to intervene by “encouraging” the minister to appoint his son.
The appointment, which was made after the 1 March 2017 parliamentary no-confidence vote on the Dr Mosisili-led seven-party coalition government, ignited an outcry from opposition parties and other stakeholders.
They accused Dr Mosisili of deliberately placing relatives in strategic areas of the government to retain control even if he were to lose power in the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.
The polls brought Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention and three other parties to power after they won 63 seats, enough to form government.
Dr Mosisili’s DC and six other parties that constituted the former government could only muster 47 seats collectively, which were 14 short of the 61-seat threshold to form government.
Critics of the appointment also questioned Mr Mosisili’s qualifications for the position given that he is a lawyer while the previous officeholders were Physics Professor Lebohang Moleko and Engineer Charles Putsoane.
They argued that the holder of the position of LHWC chief delegate needed to have the technical knowhow to meaningfully contribute to the implementation of the projects.
They also pointed to the M180 000 the younger Mosisili was allegedly taking home monthly as a sign of profligacy, which together with the M45 000 he made as a government-appointed Letšeng Diamond Mine board member would amount to a M225 000 monthly income.
The controversy surrounding the appointment was compounded by the fact that Mr Mosisili’s predecessor, Mr Putsoane, had left the post after a bitter fight to remove him before the expiry of his term in March 2017. The fight to remove Mr Putsoane had been spearheaded by Mr Mosisili last year while he was an acting PS in the Water Affairs ministry.
Mr Putsoane, who was suspended during his last days as LHWC chief delegate, eventually negotiated an exit package in the region of M6 million with the government.
For his part, Mr Mathaba had responded to the allegations by saying the appointment “came as a surprise” to Dr Mosisili who he said had no knowledge of the development prior to it being made public.
Political analysts had accused Dr Mosisili of deploying family members and allies to strategic areas so that he could “rule from the grave”, referring to retaining power even after leaving office.
However, since its inauguration last month, Dr Thabane’s government has hit the ground running in firing and replacing senior officials aligned to the previous regime.
Earlier this month, the premier fired Government Secretary Lebohang Ramohlanka and ended the tenure of Colonel Tumo Lekhooa as National Security Service director-general, barely a year after his appointment for a three-year term.
Colonel Lekhooa was dispatched to his old job as Director of Military Intelligence at the Lesotho Defence Force.
Dr Thabane has also sent Lesotho Mounted Police Service Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa on an involuntary 90-day leave and issued the top cop a “show cause” letter for why he should not be dismissed this week.
Lesotho Correctional Service Commissioner, ‘Matefo Makhalemele, has also been sent on a 57-day forced leave.
Meanwhile, all PSs appointed by the Mosisili regime were sent on leave this week as a prelude to their dismissal.