Lesotho: Minister Drags MCC Mayor to a Hearing

The Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship, Litšoane Litšoane has summoned Maseru Mayor, Mpho Moloi to a disciplinary hearing to answer to insubordination charges.

The hearing has been set for Monday and Tuesday next week.

Ms Moloi is accused of contravening the Maseru Municipal Council (MMC) code of conduct by residing in a staff house at the expense of council staff.

Ms Moloi is also accused of compromising the integrity of the council by encouraging or participating in a conduct that caused maladministration at the council.

This comes on the back of Mr Litšoane's accusations that councillors and officials of the MCC stole M3, 5 million meant for development projects to pay themselves loans and salary advances. Mr Litšoane made the accusations last week and announced that he had also dissolved the MCC's tender panel for contravening the Local Government Act of 1997.

Mr Litšoane said the tender panel was composed of councillors in contravention of the Local Government Act.

Mr Litšoane said the illegal diversion of funds had badly affected the council's cash flows to the extent that the MCC was unable to pay its employees their July 2019 salaries. As a result, the ministry had to divert M500 000 meant for an electrification project to help pay those salaries.

But the MCC has vehemently denied the minister's allegations in what has now become a ferocious war of words.

Ms Moloi and her colleagues said Mr Litšoane was misinformed. The councillors have in turn levelled corruption allegations against Mr Litšoane. They also called his move of dissolving the tender panel suspicious considering that it had already started processes for the tendering of the Mpilo highway extension.

According to the letter signed by the Advocate Tumelo Mokoena, who has been appointed secretary to a committee tasked to investigate the allegations by Mr Litšoane, Ms Moloi is also accused of publicly disobeying Mr Litšoane's directives, walking out of a meeting with him and staging an attack on him at a rally in Mafeteng.

"On 30 July 2019, you, Ms Moloi, held a press conference where you publicly declared an abolition of Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship's lawful directive on administration and management of Maseru Municipal Council," the letter addressed to Ms Moloi reads.

"On 1 August 2019, the Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship held a meeting with Councillors of Maseru Municipal Council. In that meeting, you, Ms Moloi, without reasonable excuse, walked out of the meeting showing no respect to the lawful authority.

"On or about 4 August 2019, you, Ms Moloi, addressed a political rally in Mafeteng No. 55 where you made vicious attacks to the Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship."

The letter said Mr Litšoane acted in accordance with Regulation 23 of the Local Government Regulations 2005 read with Clause 11(7) of the Code of Conduct for Councillors, to investigate the alleged acts levelled against Ms Moloi.

The letter said that Ms Moloi has acted contrary to the MMC code of conduct.

"You reside in one of the staff houses at Maseru West belonging to the Maseru Municipal Council contrary to the provisions of clause 9 of the Code of Conduct... " the letter reads.

The hearing is scheduled for 12 and 13 August 2019 at the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Boardroom at Moposo House in Maseru.

Ms Moloi has been afforded the right to have a representative who shall be a colleague. She will also be allowed to call witnesses will also be allowed to cross examine any witness. She has also been warned that the hearing would proceed in even if she absconds.

In a letter to appoint Adv Mokoena, Mr Litšoane ordered the committee to conclude the investigations and submit a report to his office by 16 August 2019.

"... In my capacity as the Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship, appoint you, the secretary to a committee which will be investigating acts allegedly committed by Ms Mpho Moloi in her capacity as a Councillor and the Mayor of Maseru Municipal Council.

"After conclusion of investigations, the committee is expected to submit a report to my office on or before 16 August 2019," Mr Litšoane's letter said.

Meanwhile, Ms Moloi on Sunday told an All Basotho Convention (ABC) rally for the Professor Nqosa Mahao faction in Mafeteng that she was not worried that she could be fired and evicted from her Maseru West home for speaking against Mr Litšoane.

Ms Moloi said she was unfazed although she had been informed that she could be fired.

"My responses to the minister (Mr Litšoane) have followed me and I have heard that I could soon be served with a letter of eviction from the MCC house and that I could also be fired as mayor.

"But I can swear that I am not deterred by any of that. I was elected to be a councillor not a mayor of Maseru. But what is most important is that I am still the elected councillor for the Maseru Central constituency," Ms Moloi said.

Ms Moloi said she stood by her words adding that she was compelled to respond to Mr Litšoane's statements the way she did to set the record straight.

"I am the face of MCC, so I felt compelled to respond to him in the media that he was not telling the truth. I still maintain even now that he was not telling the truth. We appeal to our lawyers to go through the MCC laws and regulations to help us determine who is telling the truth or determine who the thief is between ntate Litšoane and I," she said.

Ms Moloi said legislators had no business interfering with the offices of the councillors, making them look like they were just getting paid for now work.

"If we let the MPs run the show and interfere with our work, we will not get any job done and the electorate will curse us."

In an interview with this publication this week, Ms Moloi said she had still not been served with any letters although she was awaiting them.

She said they were called for a meeting on Thursday where Mr Litšoane said they should not have responded to his statement in the press but should have instead gone to him.

"I said that likewise, he should have called us to discuss his concerns instead of addressing them at a press conference. We had to use the same platform to clear our soiled names."

She said she and six other councillors walked out of the meeting which had turned into an interrogation room, leaving some of their colleagues who seemed to have backtracked.

"I called a meeting the following day to deliberate on the meeting we had with the minister and only me and the six councillors who walked out on the minister came.

"I am standing by the truth. I am calling a spade a spade. I don't want to shoulder any blames because we had been scared to confront our superiors.

"It is odd how they suddenly dissolved the tender board when it has already advanced in the tendering processes of the Mpilo Road. The new tender board would have to start the whole tender processes all over again," Ms Moloi said.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Lesotho Times

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 150 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.