PM’s aides at loggerheads

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PM's Political Advicer Fako Likoti (left) and PM's Senior Private Secretary Mamello Morisson
PM’s Political Advicer Fako Likoti (left) and PM’s Senior Private Secretary Mamello Morisson

’Marafaele Mohloboli

TWO of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s closest aides are allegedly at loggerheads over their lines of responsibility resulting in a frosty working relationship.

Authoritative sources said relations between the Prime Minister’s Senior Private Secretary (SPS) Mamello Morrison, who has on several occasions been accused by opposition parties of meddling in issues that fall outside her mandate, and the premier’s political advisor, Dr Fako Likoti, had degenerated markedly over their lines of work.

Dr Likoti is said to be enraged that Ms Morrison tends to assume too much power and seeks to direct the Dr Mosisili on issues that he should handle while Ms Morrison is said to be doubtful of Dr Likoti’s competence.

The two have nevertheless vehemently denied the allegations in separate interviews.

“‘M’e Morrison wants the best for her boss Ntate Mosisili and would probably die for him. She (Ms Morrison) thinks that people like Dr Likoti don’t give it their all and she is not afraid to make decisions that she thinks will enhance the Prime Minister’s agenda even if she steps on the toes of others….She gets angry when things are not done well for the PM. She is also very fluent. Just as an example, she got enraged during one instance involving a speech that Dr Likoti wrote for the PM which she felt was not up to scratch…..,” said a source, who preferred anonymity.

Ms Morrison said she only acts within the scope of her job description, adding her duties and those of Dr Likoti were worlds apart, leaving no room for any conflict.

“I am the chief administrator in the PM’s office and Likoti is just an advisor to the PM, so there is hardly any room for us to have conflict unless our interpretation of the word ‘administration’ means two different things. I am wholly responsible for the PM’s communications and I don’t see a reason why there should be conflict between us.”

Ms Morrison availed her job description when asked by the Lesotho Times, saying she did not mind if it was availed for public consumption to help explain her role in light of the misconceptions and accusations she faced when responding on behalf of the premier.

Civic groups who organized a march to Dr Mosisili’s offices to demand the implementation of the recommendations of a SADC Commission of Inquiry report became irate when Ms Morrison responded to them, dismissing her as a junior and demanding that their concerns be addressed by the prime minister or any other senior officials.

However, Ms Morrison’s job description, as seen and interpreted by the Lesotho Times, confirms her as a very key figure in the PM’s office and opposition party perceptions that she should just be a typist are roundly wrong.

According to her job description, the main purpose of her job is to assist the PM “to achieve his mandate by formulating developmental programs, interpreting relevant policies and follow-up their application, providing information and advice and overseeing the operational effectiveness of the PM’s office.”

Ms Morrison also has the obligation to attend ministerial management meetings to record progress on planned outcomes. She further “screens requests for meetings with the PM, writes letters and responds to correspondence as directed by the PM himself.”

She also has to oversee and control expenditure and efficient use of resources.

“This could be one of the reasons why her relations with Dr Likoti are no longer healthy,” said another source.

‘M’e Morrison is definitely not a typist. She is the equivalent of chief of staff in the White House (the office of the president of the United States). The position of chief of staff in the US is the most powerful administrative position for the US president. So why should the opposition and civic groups get offended if ‘M’e Morrison writes to them on behalf of the PM. Her voice is as good as the PM’s.

“Also by definition, she is far more senior to Dr Likoti. She can set the agenda for the PM while Dr Likoti can only advice and his advice can be rejected….. In fact, when the Prime Minister walks into his office, he inevitably interfaces with ‘M’e Morrison first before anyone else……Ntate Mosisili cannot perform his functions without her whereas he can go for weeks or months without speaking to Dr Likoti and it makes no difference….The problem is that she is a woman and chauvinistic attitudes play a part.”

Other sources said Dr Likoti felt that he was more senior, more educated and more sophisticated and felt undermined by ‘M’e Morrison and would rather avoid her if he can.

“The problem for him (Dr Likoti) is that, just like anyone else needing access to the PM, he cannot completely avoid her….She is the gatekeeper….She has the right to advice the PM on who to go with on what type of trip and she can even rightly select the delegation herself because her job allows her to do that…….  ”

At some point, the sources said, Dr Likoti went behind Ms Morrison’s back to demand that his name  be put back on a list of a delegation that was going on a trip with the PM, after it had been removed by  Ms Morrison.

A source said Dr Likoti was also being accused of leaking confidential information to the media. “At one point there was a letter that was leaked to some media people and this cost someone their job,” said the source.

However when contacted for comment, an irate Dr Likoti denied all allegations levelled against him. He also refused to give us his job description so that we can make meaning of his role in the PM’s office.  “I will not give you my job description it’s not meant for public consumption, and please note that I’m not a civil servant.”

Dr Likoti also flatly rejected all suggestions of a bitter relationship between him and Ms Morrison.

“She (Ms Morrison) is my mother, she helped me out a lot while I was still a police recruit and I respect her for that. These are all unfounded allegations…..We work together well and we serve the same boss and want the best for our boss. Your story is nothing but a phishing fishing expedition.”

He also denied suggestions that he had leaked any information to the media saying such allegations were the reasons he hated speaking to the media. “These are some of the things that make me hate speaking to the media and I know nothing about this leakage that you are referring to.”

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