. . . as ‘purge’ of Mosisili appointees looms
PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has fired Government Secretary (GS) Lebohang Ramohlanka with effect from Friday.
The development was confirmed yesterday by government spokesperson and Communications, Science and Technology Minister Joang Molapo.
“She has been discharged from her duties and replaced by the Water Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Emmanuel Lesoma, who will continue in that capacity until the position is filled,” Chief Molapo said.
The minister would not be drawn to state the reasons for Ms Ramohlanka’s dismissal. A GS is an administrative head of the state.
Asked if Ms Ramohlanka’s sacking was a precursor to the speculated dismissal of PSs and other senior officials appointed by the previous government, Chief Molapo said no such information had been issued to him.
However, sources privy to issue have told the Sunday Express the dismissal was part of a purge of senior government officials appointed by the Pakalitha Mosisili-led former government which lost power after the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.
Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention, the Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho cobbled together the 63 seats they won in the elections to form government.
They replaced the Dr Mosisili-led seven-party governing coalition which was inaugurated on 17 March 2015 after the 28 February 2015 parliamentary elections.
Ms Ramohlanka confirmed her dismissal in an interview yesterday, saying: “I got my (dismissal) letter on Friday afternoon and was not really surprised because I knew that the position I was holding was political.
“I was aware that I would have to make way for a new appointee with the coming in of the new government.”
She added: “I feel very much honoured to have served my people at that level and to have been entrusted with a job of such magnitude and will forever be grateful. I feel privileged to have served my country.”
Ms Ramohlanka was appointed by Dr Mosisili in October 2015, becoming the first woman to take that post in Lesotho. She had replaced Moahloli Mphaka, who had been appointed by Dr Thabane in 2014 during his first tenure as premier.
Ms Ramohlanka was Lesotho’s High Commissioner in London from 2000 to 2005, and was appointed Mafeteng District Administrator in 2005. She occupied the post until 2007 when she became National Assembly Clerk before leaving in 2012 and is also a very active member of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa.
The sources said more heads would roll of people affiliated with the previous government, “to ensure the people serving in strategic positions serve the interests of the new administration”.
“The new government cannot afford to have people who may be used by the previous government to throw spanners into our operations,” said the sources who insisted on anonymity to avoid reprisals.
“In any case, there is nothing unusual about that because Ntate Mosisili fired all the principal secretaries and senior government officials who were appointed by Ntate Thabane.”
The sources also indicated that the four-party governing coalition was intent on scuttling Dr Mosisili’s alleged plan to “rule from the grave”, referring to the former premier remaining in control of the government even after leaving office.
Dr Mosisili was accused of placing his relatives and associates in key positions in the government.
The former premier’s critics point to the appointment of his son, Rethabile, to the influential and plum post of Lesotho Highlands Water Commission delegate ahead of the 3 June 2017 elections as an example of an attempt to retain control even without political power.
However, officials in the former government had insisted that the appointment was based on merit.
Dr Thabane last month sent Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa on an involuntary 90-day leave, with sources privy to the matter saying it was a strategy to ease the top cop out of the post.
Commissioner Letsoepa had been accused of doing the former government’s bidding by promoting over 36 police officers and announcing it a day after the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.
Commissioner Letsoepa has since scoffed at the allegations, saying the promotions were not politically-motivated but based on merit. He asserted that the promoted officers satisfied the Board of Promotions’ criteria, adding that the LMPS had the financial wherewithal to pay their increased remuneration.
The Lesotho Police Staff Association has since dragged Commissioner Letsoepa to the High Court challenging the legality of the promotions.
Acting Police Commissioner Keketso Monaheng has since stopped the payment of the police officers’ updated salaries until the legitimacy of their promotions has been ascertained.
However, the 36 officers have since taken Acting Commissioner Monaheng to court challenging the legality of his decision.