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Employee wants court to order LNDC to release audit report

Nat Molomo

MASERU — A financial manager at the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) wants the High Court to order the corporation to release an audit report that is to be used as the basis for a disciplinary hearing against him. In an urgent application filed on Wednesday, Thabang Khabo says the LNDC should provide him with a copy of the audit report compiled by a South African audit firm Nexus Forensic Services.

Nexus was on February 13 last year engaged by the LNDC to investigate eight heads of divisions following allegations that certain rules and regulations of the corporation had been breached. The eight were sent on “special leave” to pave way for the forensic audit.
Khabo says he and the other seven heads of divisions were however recalled after the audit process, which was supposed to take eight weeks, took longer than was expected.
But on November 9, 2012 he says he received a notice to appear before a disciplinary hearing.

He says he was however surprised that the charges which were now being levelled against him were not consistent with Nexus’ mandate as he had been led to believe. He said he was now charged with failing “to carry out interventions, (that) I failed to exercise due cases over credit control and that therefore I had neglected my duties and failed to obey fair and reasonable instructions, thereby failing to act in the best interests of LNDC”.
He alleges that these changes had been motivated by the Nexus Forensic Audit Report. He says he and his legal representative demanded a copy of the Nexus report on the date of the disciplinary hearing last November.

The LNDC however refused to hand over a copy of the report arguing it would infringe on the privacy of other heads of divisions mentioned in the report. “I and my legal representative need the report as the reason why I was given special leave was to enable the forensic audit to be carried out without interference,” he says. “That being the case I need to establish what finding exactly the audit report made about my performance which resulted in the charges being levelled against me.”

He adds that there was no way he could “go through the disciplinary hearing without having the report”. “In refusing to avail me with the report, respondent’s (LNDC) panel is hiding behind the so-called infringement of the privacy of others. “This is in spite of the fact that my lawyers have clearly stipulated that we are only interested in those sections of the report that involve/implicate me,” he says. “I verily aver that it is in the interests of justice and fairness that respondent avails of the report if only to satisfy me the charges against me are genuine.”

Khabo says he finds it odd that the LNDC chief executive Joshua Setipa “found it proper to excise his power to suspend me and the others and under a forensic report when he had been with the corporation for less than a month”. He adds that the refusal by the LNDC to provide him with the forensic investigation report shows that the charges “do not emanate from the report but are trumped up, to get rid of head of divisions and replace them with less experienced and knowledgeable junior staff”.

Khabo also accuses the LNDC of failing to adhere to its own disciplinary procedures.
He says Section of its disciplinary procedures which require an employee to be arraigned before a disciplinary hearing only after several verbal warnings was not followed.
He also says two panelists, Thato Kao and Seymore Kikine, had refused to recuse hemselves after he raised objections that they might be biased.

He says the two are closely related to former premier Pakalitha Mosisili, whose son he says is a close friend of Setipa. “In view of the foregoing I verily aver that the matter is urgent and I cannot be afforded substantial relief in a hearing in due course because the maintenance order is highly prejudicial to me as aforesaid it renders this application urgent,” he says.

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