Reversing fight against corruption

THE decision to hire Masupha Sole, the former boss of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) who was convicted for bribery and fraud, is a blow to the country’s fight against corruption.

Sole was released in May after spending only nine years of his initial sentence of 15 years for 11 counts of bribery and two of fraud.

He started work as the chief technical advisor to the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC) on Monday last week.

Because the LHWC supervises the LHDA, Sole will be an advisor to the same projects through which he solicited bribes from international consultant firms between 1988 and 1998.

The decision to appoint Sole must be condemned in the strongest terms.

We recall that when Sole was convicted in 2002 and the companies that bribed him were blacklisted little Lesotho was praised for punching above its weight in the fight against corruption.

That reputation of Lesotho as a poor country determined to rid itself of corruption was cemented when more senior officials of the LHWC were nabbed for sleaze.

Our Kingdom was seen as a shining example of a developing country committed to fighting graft.

Lesotho’s fight against corruption had taken down some huge international companies, one of which had annual turnovers way more than our country’s national budget.

We basked in glory and more donor money flowed into the country because of the goodwill we got from those corruption-busting trials. By appointing Sole the government of Lesotho risks squandering that goodwill.

We have to remind the government that the goodwill did not come easy.

From now on we will come across as a little country that has become complacent in its fight against corruption.

The decision to appoint Sole takes us years back as a country.

As far as the fight against corruption is concerned we are marching backwards.

The lack of judgment in our government is astounding, to say the least.

Here is a man, a crook, fired from the LHDA for fraud.

This is a man who was successfully sued by the LHDA and lost everything he owned as the authority sought to recover what it had lost through his fraudulent activities.

This is the man who was supposed to have spent more than half a century behind bars had it not been that the courts were lenient enough to allow the sentences to run concurrently.

To date no man in this country is a more apt symbol of corruption than Sole.

To appoint him to the same project he used to solicit bribes is recklessness of the highest order.

It is a mockery to the citizens of this country who have made it clear, through numerous surveys, that they abhor corruption of any kind.

This also clearly shows the hypocrisy of this government.

Recently we were told that the government had hired a consultancy firm to revamp the country’s anti-corruption strategies and capacitate the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences.

The consultant is still at work but a preliminary report released last month clearly showed that the majority of the people believed that the government was not doing enough to fight corruption.

We sincerely believed that the government was serious about winning the battle against graft in this country.

How wrong we were?

Sole’s appointment sends the wrong signals to the public and the international community which has given generously to this country. We believe that the government should do the right thing and withdraw Sole’s appointment.

It is a wrong decision whichever way one looks at it.

To Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili we say here is an opportunity to show good leadership.

We dare you, prime minister, to make the right choice.

Comments are closed.