MASERU — The Ombudsman, Sekara Mafisa, says the allegation by Forestry Minister Ralechate Mokose that he issued a damning report on the block farming scheme to shore up his political career is “nonsense”.
And he says Finance Minister Timothy Thahane’s statement that the office of the ombudsman cannot investigate ministers is also a “lie”.
Mafisa’s report on the running of the block farming scheme last month has touched a raw nerve in the government.
The report says Mokose and Thahane benefited from loans given out under the block farming scheme.
In the same report Mafisa lays into Thahane for allegedly undermining the role of the ombudsman.
The ombudsman also accuses Thahane of ignoring his recommendations and threatening some of the farmers who had complaints against the government.
The ministers’ reactions to these allegations have been robust.
Apart from vehemently denying the allegations that they benefited from the scheme, the two ministers have also fired volleys at Mafisa.
Mokose has said Mafisa is using the report to damage his reputation.
Mafisa wants to climb the political ladder by tarnishing other people’s reputations, Mokose said in the wake of the report.
Thahane has said Mafisa does not have the right to investigate ministers and other statutory officers.
This is the reason he refused to appear for the ombudsman’s hearing in his capacity as a minister.
But Mafisa this week said the two ministers were missing the point.
“It is nonsensical to say that I am fighting political battles,” Mafisa said in an interview with the Sunday Express this week.
“Is it a lie that some ministers have signed for the loans on behalf of some farmers?
“I did not take that information from the sky.
“I relied on the information I got from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Sekara Mafisa did not create that list. The bank itself said so. I used official information.”
Mafisa said he did not understand why Mokose could make such an allegation when he does not come from the same constituency with him.
“The minister is therefore looking for an easy way to explain away the problem by alleging political machinations,” the ombudsman said.
Thahane is wrong to say that the ombudsman does not have the power to investigate ministers, Mafisa said
“He (Thahane) is wrong to say that. It’s a lie,” Mafisa said.
“What I cannot investigate is the cabinet as a whole and not a single minister.”