Lesotho’s UK ambassador faces dismissal
LESOTHO’S High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Rethabile ‘Mahlompho Mokaeane, faces dismissal for alleged incompetence, insubordination and failure to discharge her mandate.
This as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations has concluded its disciplinary hearing against her.
Ms Mokaeane insists she is innocent. She said the Wednesday disciplinary hearing, chaired by Home Affairs Principal Secretary (PS), Tumelo Raboletsi, was merely an attempt by the current Moeketsi Majoro administration to get rid of her as she had been appointed by the previous Thomas Thabane-led government.
“It (disciplinary hearing) is just malice because I refused to follow so many unlawful instructions by the (foreign affairs) PS (Retired Colonel Tanki Mothae) that I should pay the school fees of Counsellor Lineo Palime’s child who is attending school in South Africa,” Ms Mokaeane said in a weekend interview with the Sunday Express.
“It is a fact that I was posted by the previous government, so the current government is looking for any means to remove me,” she said, adding the allegations against her were defamatory in nature.
Foreign affairs PS, Retired Colonel Mothae, last month wrote to Ms Mokaeane, requesting her to “show cause why” disciplinary proceedings could not be instituted against her.
“During the financial years of 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, at or near the Chancery located at 7 Chesham Place, Belgravia, London, United Kingdom, in your capacity as the High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the United Kingdom; as Head of Mission, you have failed to properly manage the affairs of the Mission and to provide necessary financial and other reports as you are required,” Rtd Col Mothae stated in his 12 May 2021 letter to Ms Mokaeane.
“…in your capacity as the High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Lesotho…you refused to authorise prompt payment of monthly salaries, allowances and or lawful out of pocket claims to the violation of the rights and welfare of the diplomatic and locally recruited staff of the Mission. This has further tarnished the reputation of Lesotho in the United Kingdom and across the globe.”
Rtd Col Mothae further accuses Ms Mokaeane of disrespecting her superiors and her subordinates by using intimidating, indecent and demeaning words towards them.
Rtd Col Mothae alleges that Ms Mokaeane used unethical and demeaning words to describe diplomatic staff during a 3 July 2019 meeting in the UK held upon arrival of the then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Temeki Tšolo.
He alleges that Ms Mokaeane said, “ke bona bana beo le ba tšepetseng ho tla emela Lesotho naheng ee e kholo ha kaale, ea Makhooa, bona baa (loosely translated as “are these the children that you trusted to represent Lesotho in this big country of the white people?”)
“This (language) does not only belittle fellow public officers but also the authority that appointed and posted them to represent Lesotho.
“(Again) during a diplomatic staff meeting on 26 November 2019, you used insulting and intimidating words towards your fellow public officers – the counsellor, first secretary and the third secretary.
“You were unnecessarily harsh and further disrespected the third secretary in the presence of her colleagues, emphasising in a threatening manner that if she did not process payment of your children’s school fees you will deal with her personally.”
Rtd Col Mothae also accuses Ms Mokaeane of circulating “vexatious and indecent” statements in the media with a malicious intent of “destructively” criticising the work of the UK mission staffers.
He also accuses Ms Mokaeane of improperly sharing information she acquired in the course of her duties without being authorised to do so.
“…while on air on People’s Choice FM, during a current affairs programme named Thahameso…you publicly revealed confidential information that had come into your knowledge in your official capacity, without authorisation to do so. You revealed information on financial and administrative matters related to the upkeep of the Mission, communication issues between yourself and the Principal Secretary, payment of rent for diplomats’ residence, payment of school fees and also on matters related to personal home leave details of the diplomatic staff.
“You have failed to be an acceptable example to other public officers in that you have created a hostile working environment by breaking down the professional means of communication between yourself and the diplomatic staff, whom you have blocked from contacting you both telephonically and in person. (sic)…It is in this vein that my office contemplates on instituting a disciplinary action against you,” Rtd Col Mothae said in his letter to Ms Mokaeane.