Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has fired five principal secretaries who are said to be members of former Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki's Alliance of Democrats (AD). Seven other principal secretaries have been reshuffled with effect from 15 June 2020.
The five who have been shown the exit door are Lebohang Mochaba (Justice and Correctional Services), Dr Thabiso Lebese (Education and Training), Tieho Mamasiane (Tourism, Environment and Culture), Tjoetsane Seoka (Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation) and Khomoatsana Tau (Energy and Meteorology).
They were effectively fired on Monday after receiving letters from Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka informing them to immediately go on leave pending the expiry of their contracts on 8 and 9 August 2020.
The Lesotho Times this week saw a copy of Mr Mphaka's letter to Ms Mochaba, informing her to immediately go on leave pending the expiry of her contract.
"I am directed by the Prime Minister to request you, as I hereby do, to proceed on terminal leave with immediate effect pending expiring of your contract as principal secretary," Mr Mphaka states in his Monday letter to Ms Mochaba.
"I wish to take this opportunity to wish you well in your future endeavors and to thank you for the services you rendered to the government and the nation during your tenure as a high-ranking government official." Mr Mphaka also ordered Ms Mochaba to immediately hand over her office to the deputy principal secretary or a senior officer in the ministry.
The other four principal secretaries are said to have received similar letters on Monday. Ms Mochaba and Dr Lebese told this publication that their contracts were due to expire on 8 August this year.
Although no reasons were given for the move, Dr Lebese said he was sent on leave because of his association with the AD which was excluded from the new governing coalition anchored by the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC). Dr Majoro succeeded ABC party leader Thomas Thabane as prime minister on 20 May 2020. The ABC's national executive committee (NEC) had resolved to kick out the AD from its new coalition with the DC for allegedly undermining efforts to achieve that new coalition. The ABC had dubbed Mr Thabane a liability after he was accused of the 14 June 2017 murder of his ex-wife, Lipolelo.
"I knew that I was out of that office as soon as there was a change of regime," Dr Lebese told the Lesotho Times this week.
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"I even tried to apply for leave on 20 May 2020 but I was advised that I did not have enough leave days. I was advised to go on terminal leave on 7 July 2020 and I was ready to do so," he added.
Ms Mochaba said she was not aggrieved by Dr Majoro's decision to terminate her contract. She said she was already on leave pending her exit.
"I received the letter informing me of the prime minister's decision. I wish to state that I was not fired as many people interpret it. I was sent on leave and I have no problem with that.
"I am not aggrieved because I was employed on the basis of my competency and my employer has a right to send me on leave," Ms Mochaba said.
She did not see the move as politically motivated, saying "we are public officers and for me this has nothing to do with party politics".
On his part, Mr Tau said "it is true that I received a letter and my contract is due to expire in the first week of August 2020".
Mr Seoka said he received his letter on Monday and his contract was due to expire on 9 August 2020.
Mr Mamasiane's mobile phone rang unanswered when this publication called him for comment yesterday.
Meanwhile, Dr Majoro has reshuffled seven other principal secretaries with effect from 15 June 2020.
Local Government and Chieftaincy principal secretary Khothatso Tšooana has been moved to the Health ministry with incumbent Thebe Mokoatle going in the opposite direction.
Mining principal secretary Themba Sopeng has been moved to the new Energy and Meteorology ministry, replacing the fired Mr Tau. Development Planning PS Nthoateng Lebona has swapped places with Finance PS Motena Tšolo.
Transport PS Thabo Motoko takes over from Public Service PS Tšeliso Lesenya who has been moved to the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology.