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LCCI boss under fire

Caswell Tlali

 MASERU — Daggers are drawn against Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) president, Kuena Phafane (pictured), ahead of an annual general meeting likely to be held next month.

The deputy president, Thabang Mokatse, has written a letter warning the general membership and associations affiliated to the LCCI that Phafane is leading the organisation down the precipice. 

Mokatse’s three-page letter, written on December 28, 2010, says the management committee failed to perform its duties because Phafane disrupted operations.

In the letter Mokatse says Phafane had a habit of doing things without consulting the management committee.

For instance, Mokatse said, Phafane entered into an agreement to build a new LCCI headquarters with Lesotho Steel Company without consulting the management committee.

“He hasn’t given any explanation to the management committee until today,” Mokatse said in the letter.

 “The president has kept important documents to himself and he refuses to show them to the members of the management committee.”

The documents, according to the letter, include a site lease for the LCCI’s new headquarters.

Mokatse says the documents were supposed to be kept by the LCCI’s executive secretary, Lebeko Nots’i, whose responsibility was to oversee the office management.

Phafane is also accused of refusing to show members of the management committee the agreement the LCCI had entered into with Avis Fleet Management, a car rental company.

The LCCI has shares in the fleet management company.

He is also accused of refusing to hand over the chairmanship of Security Lesotho board of directors to Mokatse when he ascended to the LCCI presidency in 2007.

Security Lesotho is an investment company of the LCCI and Phafane was its chairman when he was still LCCI deputy president.

Mokatse says he suspects that Phafane refused to step down as chairman of the Security Lesotho board because there was mismanagement of funds under his chairmanship.

On New Year’s Day guards working for Security Lesotho downed tools because the management had not paid them.

They only received their salaries last week, the Sunday Express has heard.

Mokatse says Security Lesotho failed to pay the workers because most of its income was going towards paying its tax arrears to the Lesotho Revenue Authority.

For years, Mokatse says, Security Lesotho did not pay tax.

Mokatse has also accused Phafane of expelling Nots’i from his job without consulting the management committee.

“When the management committee disagreed with him he said he had expelled it too and was left with only two members of the committee who agreed with him,” says Mokatse in the letter.

The management committee was split into two factions, six members supporting Mokatse while two backed Phafane.

That was when Phafane and his two followers in the management committee, Ntaote Seboka and the late Thabo Phohleli, registered a company called LCCI Investment Holdings which the other faction said its registration was fraudulent.

Phafane declined to comment when contacted for comment. Seboka however said Mokatse did not have authority to talk about the LCCI because he was still under suspension together with members of his faction.

“If they have grievances they will get a chance to lay them in front of the members at the AGM,” Seboka said.

“As for now, they should shut up.”

He said it was not true that Phafane had kept important documents for himself.

“Those who have the powers to run the LCCI have the site lease and all necessary documents of the company we registered which Mokatse and the like say is fraudulent,” he said.

Seboka also complained that Mokatse had used the LCCI letterhead to write the letter.

“He’s not a secretary and I do not expect him to be in possession of the LCCI letterhead,” he said.

“I also suspect that he had a hand in the recent disturbances at Security Lesotho,” he said.

“I suspect he had negative influence on the workers at Security Lesotho.”

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