Mosisili advisor sues govt over pension
FORMER Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Political and Economic Advisor, Fako Likoti, has petitioned the Constitutional Court to interdict the government from withholding the payment of his pension.
Mr Likoti was Dr Mosisili’s advisor during the tenure of the former seven parties’ government from 2015 to June 2017.
He believes that he has not been paid his pension because the government has blocked payment in order to recover the money it used to settle the M500 000 interest-free loan he took during his tenure in office.
During his tenure as the advisor to the then prime minister, Mr Likoti took an interest free M500 000 loan from Nedbank. Legislators and principal secretaries also took out the same amount in interest-free loans and upon its advent, the current four party government settled the loans the on behalf of the legislators, PSs and other officers that included Dr Likoti.
However on 25 January 2018, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Nthoateng Lebona, directed the Public Offices’ Defined Contribution Fund to deposit the pensions of the PSs in the previous regime into the government bank account and not into the former PSs’ personal accounts.
This was done so that the government could recover the money it paid to the banks to settle the loans on behalf of the former government officials.
Part of the letter Lebona’s 25 January 2018 letter to the Principal Officer of the Public Offices’ Defined Contribution Fund, Thabo Thulo, states: “The government has decided that the amounts settled on behalf of the PSs should be recovered from their gratuities”.
“You are therefore, kindly requested to transfer the gratuities of the former PSs as per attached schedule to the following bank details, and please send proof of payment to the Ministry of Finance,” Lebona added.
Dr Likoti has not received his pension and his lawyer, Advocate Tšokolo Makhethe KC, wrote to Lebona demanding the release of the pension.
Ad Makhethe said he believed that his client did not get his pension because of Lebona’s directive to the pension fund.
And on Friday Dr Likoti filed a court application seeking an order to bar the government from confiscating his pension to settle the loan it paid on his behalf.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Finance minister Moeketsi Majoro, PS Finance, the Principal Officer of the Specified Offices Defined Contribution Pension Fund, the Specified Offices Defined Contribution Fund and the Attorney General are cited as first to sixth respondents respectively.
Dr Likoti wants the Constitutional Court to grant an order “reviewing and setting side as unconstitutional the decision of the government…to recover from applicant the amount of money it (government) had paid to Nedbank Lesotho on behalf of the applicant, consequent upon the applicant having vacated office as Political and Economic Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister”.
In his affidavit Dr Likoti states it was reasonable for the government to settle the loans for him and the former PSs because they were not able to repay them because they lost their jobs as a result of the early dissolution of parliament. The former government should have lasted from 2015 to 2020 but its term of office ended prematurely after Dr Mosisili lost a parliamentary motion of no confidence on 1 March 2017. This led to the 3 June 2017 elections which ushered the Dr Thabane-led four party coalition.
“Naturally, and indeed as a matter of common sense, logic and objective reality, the early dissolution of Parliament in 2017 impacted negatively on the respective borrowers for the loans, that is, regarding their continued financial ability to service the loans with the banks, through monthly salaries. Thus, it incapacitated them to repay to the lending banks,” Dr Likoti further states in his court papers.