The taxman goes after churches


maloti T

his is a fact not acknowledged by many Basotho, but Scrutator is a very good Samaritan.

Ever since the launch of this column, I have been dolling out free public advice for nothing in return.

The big question is why am I such a good Samaritan?

The simple answer is that it’s all because of my immeasurable love for this Kingdom.

She loves Lesotho. So she considers it her moral duty and obligation to share her Solomonic wisdom with all her fellow countrymen and countrywomen.

Those who have followed her will attest to the fact that humility is not one of my biggest attributes.

This is because she likes saying it like it is and showcasing her unparalleled intelligence. Indeed Scrutator is intelligent. Scrutator is not bragging.

She is just stating a fact. That’s just how things are.  Scrutaor also has substantial premonition abilities. She can almost predict the future with mathematical precision.

Indeed those who heed her wisdom prosper.  Those who have ignored it have done so at their own peril.

The story of one Retšelisitsoe Khetsi is a case in point.

Those with a good memory will remember Khetsi as that former Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs before the Joang Molapo tsunami swept him off his high pedestal.

Khetsi was in court last week charged with allegedly taking a five million maloti bribe in exchange of giving away more than M300 million of our hard earned cash to that shadowy Israeli company called Nikuv, which is said to be printing our electronic passports and identity documents, without a competitive bidding process.

At the height of this controversy early last year, Scrutator proffered some free advice to Ntate Khetsi through this column.

Some of you will remember Scrutator’s free advice to Khetsi.

Because of the sheer magnitude of this deal, she advised him to jettison the selective tendering he was reported to be pursuing in favour of an open public tender process in which the best of them would emerge and allow Lesotho to get value for money.

Indeed 10 reputable international companies had been shortlisted by the Millenium Challenge Account (MCA) when it was handling the ID component of the project.

This was before this component was seized from the MCA and incorporated into one big project including the e-passports aspect, all under Khetsi’s jurisdiction.

Khetsi gave an interview to this newspaper then to defend the indefensible.

In that interview, the former PS went out of his way to try and justify why he was not putting the whole deal to an open tender.

He clutched at straws by claiming that the law allowed him to do what he was doing.

But Scrutator had already read the signs.

Her powers of premonition had already set in. She could see what would befall Khetsi if he persisted in his mischief.

She told Khetsi , through this column, that bypassing a competitive bidding process for a project of that enormity was a crime against Basotho humanity.

She further warned Khetsi that while he could believe that he could get away with it then, this will not be the case forever because one day there shall be a change of government.

Any sensible new government would indeed pursue him and demand answers. The fact that Khetsi had rushed to sign this deal way before cabinet approved it would militate against him even further.

As they say, the rest is now history. The question here is, why did Khetsi ignore the advice of this very intelligent Mosotho girl called Scrutator.  Was it the lure of mullah that blinded him?

You see Ntate Khetsi, you could still have handled the whole affair with some modicum of transparency.

If indeed you and your political masters then were doggedly determined to give the lucrative deal to Nikuv for whatever reason, you could still have achieved that in a smart way. Put out a tender there. Let the responses roll in.  Leak information to Nikuv about other bidders.

Have Nikuv alter their bid under the cover of darkness and re-submit it.

Let them win. Nobody would have known. Instead of sitting in the dock last week, you probably would have been sitting on one of those pristine Mauritian beaches with your favourite drink in hand.

Now look where your dogged determination to hand over our hard earned money to Nikuv at all costs has left you.  What is the greatest lesson to draw from all this; Ignore Scrutator’s advice at your own peril.


ecause of the increasing incidents of high profile personalities being caught with their fingers in the national cookie jar, Scrutator is re-writing the rules of law applicable to prominent bureaucrats from the level of deputy principal secretaries upwards.

If you are accused of some wrongdoing, then you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent and not vice-versa.

Hopefully, this new Scrutator Rule will keep every senior bureaucrat scared of engaging in any prejudicial contact. Because this Scrutator Rule is not enforceable in the formal courts of law, she shall ensure that it shall be readily enforceable in the court of public opinion through this popular column.



cash strapped African government is considering taxing churches and church goers, according to media reports this week.

Africa is a place where many strange things happen. But this idea must rank among the most bizarre the continent has ever experienced.

This country’s tax authorities were this week reportedly sending officials to local churches to inquire about their sources of income and seek information on people who donate to the churches.

Churches are mostly run as charity organisations the world over and hence are tax exempt.  No sane government can ever contemplate taxing church goers as well. Otherwise there will be nobody left to believe in God.

But this cash strapped African government, in its desperate attempt to raise income into its ever dry national fiscus will stop at nothing.

This particular government has also long carved a niche for itself as one of Africa’s perennial laggards.

Absolutely no surprise for guessing which this government is. But for the avoidance of any doubt — and for the benefit of those who don’t follow the news — this government is in charge of a place called Zimboland. Its subjects are called Zimbos.

If the name Zimbabwe hasn’t already rang a bell in your mind, then your aptitude in current affairs is appallingly poor.  Ache!

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