MASERU — Karabo Mabote (pictured), the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS)’s former director, has “graciously” accepted the government’s decision to fire him over charges linked to corruption.
Mabote was fired for breaching sections of the Public Service Act, Finance Minister Timothy Thahane announced last week.
Mabote breached Section 15(1) (a) and (i) of the Public Service Act of 2005, which was read together with the Code of Conduct of 2008, according to Thahane.
Section 15(1) (a) says a public officer shall “at all times have absolute and undivided loyalty to the constitution and the lawfully constituted government”.
Section 15(1) (i) says a public officer shall “disclose to proper authority any misconduct, the commission of which he or she knows or ought to have known”.
Thahane did not divulge details of Mabote’s offence but said the move was part of efforts to have a “cleaner” and “more transparent” NMDS.
Mabote’s dismissal was recommended by a forensic firm engaged by the Ministry of Finance to probe suspected irregularities at the NMDS.
The probe had found out that the selection process of government scholarship beneficiaries as well as the disbursement of the funds was not being done properly, Thahane said.
“We had earlier this year indicated that there seemed to be some irregularities with operations of the National Manpower Development Secretariat, in terms of processing of funds for students, selection and operation systems,” Thahane said on Wednesday.
Mabote was suspended without pay for six months while the probe was being carried out.
“We thus engaged a firm of investigators to carry out investigations while the acting director was suspended,” Thahane said.
“The findings led to a disciplinary hearing that resulted in a recommendation for his dismissal.
“Mabote was found to have conducted himself in a manner contrary to the code of good conduct for public servants, both in terms of his performance and handling of financial matters.”
Thahane said he could not divulge details of the charges against Mabote.
“The irregularities were established during investigations by Gobodo Forensic Accounting, a South African company previously engaged to investigate the former head of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, Masupha Sole, now serving a term in prison,” he said.
“It is a firm of experts specialising in legal, accounting and information technology consultancy.
“We cannot at this stage divulge the details of the charges as more information is to be provided by the investigators and on what other steps will follow.”
Mabote, in an interview with the Sunday Express, said he accepted the verdict passed against him.
“I wholeheartedly accept that we went through all the disciplinary processes and I was removed from the public office by way of dismissal,” he said.
“I hold no grudges against the parties involved in the case.”
Mabote could also not shed light on his misdemeanour.
He had served as acting director of the NMDS for five years.
His substantive post was as the secretariat’s deputy director.
Asteria Ntsike has been appointed as the new director of the NMDS with effect from August 7.
She is a former lecturer at the Institute of Extra-Mural Studies and holds a doctorate in public management and planning.
“I do honestly wish I could have had more time working at the NMDS, probably until retirement, but life is like that — sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” lamented Mabote.
Ntsike said her immediate challenge was to develop a manpower policy, redesign the operations of the grant and restructure the secretariat.
She also said she would come up with a strategic plan to address the loan repayment issue.
Mant’soanelo Monyobi, who acted as the director while Mabote was on suspension, disclosed that the NMDS lacked information technology systems which would assist in developing an effective database.
“There is need for IT systems to combat fraud,” Monyobi said.
“The current manual system leaves the system vulnerable to fraud as we cannot easily identify students under our sponsorship.”
Monyobi is the chief legal officer in the Ministry of Finance.
Thousands of students have failed to repay the loans once they graduate.
“There is need for a secretariat that will provide manpower skills that are relevant to our growing economy,” Thahane said.