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Metsing fails to stop corruption probe


Tefo Tefo

DEPUTY Prime Minister (DPM) Mothetjoa Metsing on Friday lost a court bid to stop the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) from investigating his finances.

Mr Metsing had challenged a Constitutional Court ruling of 25 February 2015 dismissing his application to have the investigation declared illegal on the grounds it violated his right to privacy.

However, the Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed the challenge, paving the way for the anti-graft body to continue probing the source of funds deposited into his Standard Lesotho Bank and Nedbank accounts between April 2013 and January 2014.

Details of why an all-foreign jury comprising Frederik Daniel Jacobus Brand of South Africa, Zimbabwe’s Moses Hungwe Chinhengo, Phillip Musonda (Zambia), Yvonne Mokgoro (South Africa) and Robert Nugent (South Africa) ruled against the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader were not readily available as copies of the written would only be available on Tuesday this week.

Announcing the ruling in the Court of Appeal on Friday afternoon, Justice Chinhengo simply said: “In the circumstances, the appeal is dismissed and there will be no order as to costs.”

Mr Metsing, who is also the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, further noted in an affidavit to strengthen his case, that the DCEO had been used by his political rivals to tarnish his reputation and political career through the investigation.

By destroying his image, his  rivals hoped to enhance their own political careers, he further argued in the affidavit submitted before the Constitutional Court in November 2014.

“Firstly, it is apparent that the first and second respondents (DCEO Director-General Borotho Matsoso and the DCEO as an institution) have been conniving with some politicians to vilify me.

“In this regard, a letter written by the Prime Minister (All Basotho Convention {ABC} leader Thomas Thabane) that emerged after the political crisis of August 2014, speaks volumes about this fact.

“In the letter which I annex and mark RM2, the Prime Minister alleges that I am involved in corruption,” Mr Metsing wrote in the affidavit.

The DPM  quoted Dr Thabane as saying he was “involved in malpractice and abuse of power, leading to huge losses of public funds, possibly for personal gain and this is demonstrated by large amounts of money that are being deposited into his bank account over some time now.”

Mr Metsing further notes: “Secondly, the third respondent (Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs Haae Phoofolo) who is a member of the All Basotho Convention, one of the parties in a coalition government with my party, the LCD, and BNP (Basotho National Party), made similar allegations at a political rally.

“Although I heard the full speech he made as it was broadcast on Lesotho Television, I wish to annex herewith and mark RM3, a newspaper report of that speech.

“In that speech, the third respondent, Mr Phoofolo, who is a trained lawyer by profession, is alleging that I am corrupt and that I have opened several accounts in which I deposited public monies; that the conduct of the respondents in accessing my accounts is not unconstitutional; that as an expert in the field (of law), he knows I have no case.”

Mr Metsing further noted he considered the said statements significant to his case, arguing Advocate Phoofolo “is designated as a minister for purposes of the administration of the DCEO Act 1999 as amended”.

He continues: “Secondly, in terms of Section 52 of the DCEO Act, the second respondent (DCEO) is obliged to report to this particular minister.

“It is inconceivable, therefore, that the first and second respondents did not brief the said minister on these issues.”

Mr Metsing also complained of “inconsistencies” in the accusations made against him by the DCEO and his coalition partners which he said proved the plot to destroy his political career.

“Notably, the allegation that is common in respect of both the prime minister and the third respondent (Adv Phoofolo), contrary to what the first respondent (DCEO Director General) avers, is that the monies deposited into my accounts are public funds, whereas the case of the first and second respondents is that it is money possibly from Big Bravo (Pty) Ltd.”

Big Bravo Construction was a local company engaged for the upgrading of Matala Phase One and Matala to Ha Leqele Bus Stop roads last year.

The company was awarded the M120 million tender allegedly due to Mr Metsing’s influence and was depositing money into the DPM’s accounts as a token of appreciation.

Mr Metsing further states in his affidavit: “To demonstrate that the so-called investigations are but a sham, a leader of the BNP, a party in the coalition government, who is also Minister of Youth and Gender Affairs (Thesele ‘Maseribane) has publicly stated that I am corrupt; and that I have tried to overthrow the government in order to avoid prosecution for corruption.”

He further alleged Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana also made similar statements against him.

According to Mr Metsing, the DCEO’s corruption investigations against him started immediately after the coalition government started to break down last year.

“The timing of the so-called investigations of my accounts for alleged corruption indeed came at almost the same time with the total fallout between the coalition partners in the government of Lesotho led by the Prime Minister (Thabane).

“When in September 2013, I stopped him from taking over a ministry allocated to my party, he started making allegations that members of my party were corrupt.

“It was in February 2014, from the papers disclosed now in this application, that the so-called investigations commenced, and a unilateral prorogation of Parliament followed in March 2014,” he noted in the affidavit.

Meanwhile, Mr Metsing was represented by King’s Counsel Motiea Teele in the case, while the DCEO was represented by Advocate Roland Suhr.

Because the Appeal Court is the highest court in the land, Mr Metsing cannot challenge the DCEO’s investigation anymore.

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