End of the road for Makhakhe

Staff Reporter

MASERU — Kubutu Makhakhe, the Principal Secretary for Administration in the Prime Minister’s office who was found guilty of corruption related charges in May and recommended for redeployment to another government post, will now have to look for another job elsewhere.

The Sunday Express can reveal that the government has decided not to renew Makhakhe’s contract.

Makhakhe had applied for a renewal five months ago.

His current three-year contract is due to end on October 31 and Makhakhe says he was hopeful that it was going to be renewed until he received a letter from government secretary Tlohang Sekhamane on August 25 informing him that his services were no longer required.

In February this year Makhakhe, who has been in the civil service since 1983, was suspended for corruption after he was alleged to have approved payments to companies linked to his wife.

The companies had supplied goods and services to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s office for which Makhakhe was the de facto chief executive.

His troubles emanated from a report by Nexus Forensic Services, a South African firm hired by the Ministry of Finance to investigate allegations of rampant corruption in the prime minister’s office.

In May this year Makhakhe was found guilty of some of the charges although the disciplinary panel said it did not have concrete evidence to prove that the companies, whose payments he had approved, were indeed linked to his wife.

The disciplinary panel then recommended that instead of being fired he should be deployed to another government job not related to procurement.

Aggrieved by the ruling, Makhakhe appealed to the Public Service tribunal.

He said he wanted to “clean” his immaculate reputation”.

But his hopes were dashed on June 10 when the tribunal rejected his appeal and recommended that he abides by the disciplinary panel’s decision.

Makhakhe said he was preparing to get back to work when he received the bad news that the government had decided not to renew his contract.

The letter from Sekhamane is dated August 21 but Makhakhe received it on August 25.

Makhakhe told the Sunday Express on Friday he is now preparing to fight the decision in court because the government did not give him enough notice before informing him that his contract was not going to be renewed.

He says according to the contract, the government should have given him a three-month notice.

“The contract states that either party can only terminate the contract after giving a three-month notice. The government did not do that,” he says.

“The government had a right not to renew the contract but it must have given me that notice. It’s unfair.” Makhakhe, a trained journalist, says he will meet his lawyer tomorrow to start the legal battle.

“I am not going to take it lying down, I will fight.”

He says he believes he is being victimised but does not want to name the people targeting him.

“I cannot pinpoint the people behind it but for now I can tell you that it is the system that is victimising me.”

“I had legitimate expectations that the government would abide by the terms of the contract but they did not do that. So the only option is to fight.”

Makhakhe says apart from suing the government for breach of contract he will also be fighting to clear his name.

His gripe is that the disciplinary panel did not have evidence to prove that the companies whose payments he approved belonged to his wife.

“If they could not link me to those companies by bringing registration documents from the Registrar of Companies how then do they come to the conclusion that I had committed a crime?”

“These people have tarnished my immaculate reputation as a civil servant and I want that decision reversed.”

The disciplinary panel said although there was no evidence from the Registrar of Companies to show that the firms were linked to Makhakhe’s wife there was still strong evidence that his wife either owned or controlled them.

In the hearing Sekhamane, who was the complainant, produced invoices that had contact details of Makhakhe’s wife.

The invoices had her telephone number and postal address.

It is the same postal address that Makhakhe himself uses.

But Makhakhe’s argument is that these details alone were not enough to link him to those companies.

Makhakhe joined the civil services in 1983 as the parliament’s Hansard editor.

In 1986 he joined the ministry of information as the editor of the Lesotho Today and Lentsoe la Basotho, both government newspapers.

He then left for Canada to study philosophy and communication science.

Upon his return in 1991 he went back to the information ministry and in 1993 he was appointed the press secretary to the then Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle.

In the same year he was appointed the director of information in the Cabinet Secretariat.

In 2000 he was appointed Principal Secretary for Administration in Mosisili’s office, a position he held until his troubles started in February this year.

“I am not bitter that the government has not renewed my contract. All I want is for them to do things the right way,” says Makhakhe.

Makhakhe was suspended together with three other officials in the prime minister’s office accused of corruption.

‘Marapelang Raphuthing, the administration and finance director in Mosisili’s office, was on August 25 fired from the civil services for corruption and allegedly using a government computer to watch pornographic sites.

She was accused of approving payments to a company owned by her son.

‘Manthabeleng Shai, the acting head of procurement in the same office, was suspended for three months and will be redeployed to another position not related to procurement.

She is alleged to have received presents in the form of cash, groceries and spectacles from four companies that had supplied goods and services to Mosisili’s office.

Thato Masiloane, who was Makhakhe’s deputy, was acquitted of all corruption charges.

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