MASERU — Government secretary Tlohang Sekhamane seems to have done his homework before he faced the disciplinary panel that was charging Kubutu Makhakhe, the permanent secretary in the prime minister’s office, for corruption.
He told the panel that he had a piece of paper where Mathungthung Makhakhe (Makhake’s wife) had listed her mobile number and companies that she owned.
“And ’M’e ’Mathungthung’s cell number is on Botle’s invoice and on Ntšepeng’s quotation.”
It is the payments to Botle Business Furniture and Ntšepeng Suppliers that got Makhake into trouble.
He said what happened was “outright corruption”.
“We see here that Mr Makhakhe approved payment of quotation, to the value of M29 870 to Ntšepeng Suppliers. (It was) only M130 short of the threshold of M30 000,” he said.
“Evidence by Mr Makhakhe’s witness has shown that the company will give the quotation, it is because that company has been tipped off that there will be a tender.”
“Mr Makhakhe and others he worked with believed that Ntšepeng Suppliers was a company they were acquainted with. It was because of that that he allowed it to be given an exclusive opportunity to supply almost on the threshold without competing with other companies.”
Sekhamane said this means that “if this company competed with others it could have charged much less than M29 870 but because it knew that it was the only one supplying it charged very close to the threshold (M30 000)”.
“Mr Makhakhe’s witness says things like these often happen in the office of the Right Honourable the Prime Minister. It means that Mr Makhakhe gives many companies opportunities to tender without competition and they charge very close to the threshold.
“This makes matters worse in a case where some of these companies are owned by his wife.”
Sekhamane alleged that Mrs Makhakhe was rigging the tender process with the help of her husband.
“In other words, even where there was a semblance of competition, Mrs Makhakhe was competing against herself and this happens in a situation where her husband is the one approving the process.”
He added that Makhakhe’s statement that he did not know anything about his wife’s companies was questionable.
He said Makhakhe’s defence that “investigators were unreasonably harsh” was not true because he knew about the investigations and at one time the auditors had interviewed him about the allegations.
“I was told about investigations. He was requested for his input by the investigators and he called one of them a b***h. All of us cooperated and clearly he did not.”
His hostility to the investigators, Sekhamane said, revealed that he was “hiding something”.