Top LCA managers resign over corruption allegations

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Bereng Mpaki

THE Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) says three of its top officers have resigned to avoid disciplinary hearings into their alleged misappropriation of funds and gross negligence in the discharge of their duties.

In a statement yesterday, the LCA said those who resigned this month are chief finance officer ‘Masebolaoa Sebolaoa, finance manager ‘Maseoli Sekoati and chief regulatory officer Advocate Moshoeshoe Ntaote.

Human resources manager ‘Mathabo Sebilo was dismissed by the authority allegedly after being found guilty of corruption.

The LCA is a statutory body, established in June 2000. Its mandate is to regulate the Lesotho’s communications sector which comprises of telecommunications, broadcasting, postal services and other related services.

Of late, it has been rocked by allegations that senior staffers have deviated from the authority’s core business and have been unjustly enriching themselves by awarding each other loans from the authority’s coffers.

Yesterday, the LCA said some of its top staffers had resigned to avoid disciplinary hearings “for dishonesty and misappropriation of funds” while Ms Sebilo was summarily dismissed for corruption.

“Ms Masebolaoa Sebolaoa and Ms Maseoli Sekoati, both registered chartered accountants with the Lesotho Institute of Accountants and Ms Mathabo Sebilo, began to neglect and deliberately bypass the procedures in order to access the funds of the Authority without authorisation,” the LCA said.

“The board of directors resolved to bring the officers before a disciplinary process for dishonesty and misappropriation of funds. Ms Sekoati who has been overseeing the finances of the Authority for almost 9 years tendered her resignation with immediate effect on the morning of 13 August 2020 to avoid disciplinary proceedings that were scheduled to be held that morning.

“Ms Sebolaoa who has been overseeing the finances of the Authority for 19 years also resigned with immediate effect on the morning of 18 August 2020 to avoid disciplinary proceedings that were scheduled to be held on 19 August 2020.

“Ms Sebilo, who took over the human resources function…in September 2017, was summarily dismissed on 12 August 2020 after being found guilty of several counts of misconduct relating to abuse of staff and demanding that staff pay her 10 percent of the value of the loans she assisted them to take since she was being disciplined for their sake.

“These were false accusations since the disciplinary inquiry related to specific counts of maladministration of loans by Ms Sebilo, Ms Sebolaoa and Ms Sekoati where they acted in concert to circumvent the authorisation procedure and unduly accessed funds.”

The LCA said Adv Ntaote who allegedly befitted from dubious payments under the watch of Ms Sebolaoa and Ms Sekoati, resigned “to avoid disciplinary proceedings that were scheduled to be held on 25 August 2020”. The authority has since suspended the staff loan facility.

However, the formers LCA staffers have all denied the allegations levelled against them.

Adv Ntaote said he only resigned to avoid being tried by a “kangaroo court.”

“The LCA statement has conveniently left out details of the way the disciplinary hearings were being handled. My attempts to get legal representation were frustrated. I was advised to pick one of my colleagues to represent me at the hearing. I could not agree to a kangaroo court that would deny me a fair hearing,” he told this publication yesterday.

Ms Sebilo denied any wrongdoing and instead accused the LCA of denying her a fair hearing.

“I was denied a fair hearing where the chief executive officer ‘Mamarame Matela was the complainant.  She (Matela) appointed the disciplinary committee consisting exclusively of LCA directors and my legal representatives were chased away from the hearing.

“I have never demanded 10 percent bribes from anybody. I challenge the CEO (Matela) to bring forth just one employee who gave me 10 percent of their loan…

“The CEO (Matela) was just not happy with the fact that the staff are given personal loans and she started accusing us of enriching ourselves with LCA funds.

“Like all other staff members, we were entitled to those loans because they are a benefit to all staff members and all monies owed were fully paid as instalments were deducted from source.

“I am looking forward to audit findings for 2019/2020 because I have a feeling we left before it was conducted so that a lot of information can be omitted or distorted,” Ms Sebilo said.

Ms Sekoati also denied any wrongdoing.

“The LCA is audited annually by the office of the auditor general and there has never been any concern in the way the personal loans were handled. It is not true that the loans were maladministered since all loans given to staff were paid back. Never once did I access a loan in an unprocedural manner,” she said.

 

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