Top spy fights demotion

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE Assistant Director of the National Security Service (NSS), Makali Mosoeunyane, has petitioned the High Court to block her demotion by NSS Director General, Pheello Ralenkoane.

The Lesotho Times has established that Mr Ralenkoane wrote to Defence and National Security Minister, Halebonoe Setšabi, recommending Ms Mosoeunyane’s demotion to the rank of Senior Intelligence Officer.

In his 29 October 2021 letter to Minister Setšabi, Mr Ralenkoane recommends that Ms Mosoeunyane be demoted for indiscipline and insubordination. This in connection with her alleged refusal to obey a 16 August 2021 instruction from the NSS Director of Human Resources to vacate the government house she currently resides in Maseru.

Mr Ralenkoane established a board of enquiry on 27 September 2021. It found Ms Mosoeunyane guilty of contravening Regulation 13 of the National Security Services Regulations of 2000. The regulation states that, “a member who strikes or uses threatening or insubordinate language or portrays a disrespectful act by word or demeanour to a superior or any other member of the Service placed in authority over the member commits a breach of discipline”.

In its 29 October 2021 verdict, the board of inquiry found Ms Mosoeunyane “guilty as charged”, by her virtue of her refusal to vacate the government house.

“The defaulter (Mosoeunyane) is one of the most senior officers of the NSS whose actions set an example to the numerous junior officers below her. Her insubordination, if not sufficiently punished, will impact negatively on the NSS as it will set a bad precedent to her subordinates and other officers to defy superior orders.

“The board therefore recommends that the defaulter be demoted from the rank of Assistant Director to the rank of Senior Intelligence Officer.”

Acting on the advice of the board, Mr Ralenkoane then recommended that Minister Setšabi should demote Ms Mosoeunyane.

“I agree with the verdict of the board of enquiry that the member is guilty of having contravened Regulation 13 of the National Security Service Regulations 2000,” Mr Ralenkoane stated in his 29 October 2021 letter to Mr Setšabi.

“I recommend that the member be demoted from the rank of Assistant Director to the rank of Senior Intelligence Officer. The National Security Service is a disciplined force. It is through the observance of authority and discipline by its members that the service is able to effectively discharge its constitutional mandate. Non observance by members will reduce the Service into an ungovernable and chaotic institution where everyone does as he pleases. This is an undesirable situation for an institution which is charged with the important mandate being the protection of national security,” Mr Ralenkoane further stated.

Not satisfied with the verdict, Ms Mosoeunyane filed a 2 November 2021 High Court application to stop her impending demotion.

NSS Director Mpakane, deputy directors Pita, ‘Molaoa, Motopi; Mr Ralenkoane; Mr Setšabi and Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa are the first to seventh respondents respectively in the application.

Ms Mosoeunyane wants the court to set aside the disciplinary proceedings of the board of inquiry and its guilty verdict of 29 October 2021.

“The decision of the first to third respondents dated 29 October 2021 to find the applicant guilty of misconduct and their recommendation that the applicant be demoted from the rank of Assistant Director to the rank of Senior Intelligence Officer be reviewed and set aside,” Ms Mosoeunyane prays.

NSS Director Mpakane and Deputy Directors Pita and ‘Molaoa constituted the board of inquiry. However, Ms Mosoeunyane argues the board operated outside the law, hence she wants its proceedings nullified.

“On 14 October 2021, the fourth respondent (Deputy Director Motopi) served me with a notice to appear before the board of enquiry to answer charges of misconduct or breach of discipline. This was to be on 26 October 2021 at 8.30am at NSS Maseru.

“I wish to assert that on 26 October 2021, the charges were read to me and I was asked to plead. I immediately enquired about the rational of pleading in an investigation. But I was then informed that the process was a disciplinary hearing not an investigation and I had to plead. I informed the board that I was not going to plead as I considered it an investigation and they decided to proceed nonetheless.

“I aver that as I was initially under a reasonable apprehension that the panellists of the board were not going to be impartial and the process was not going to be fair and transparent, I applied for the recusal of the first to third respondents and raised an objection to the proceedings on the basis that they did not comply with the fifth respondent’s (Ralenkoane) mandate and terms of reference. The board overruled me and decided to proceed with the proceedings which were not sanctioned by law,” Ms Mosoeunyane states in her court papers. The court is yet to set a date for hearing her application.

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