PAC legislators receive death threats
THE chairperson of the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Selibe Mochoboroane, has alleged that some of the members of the committee have received death threats from unknown people who are opposed to the committee’s ongoing investigations into the use of public funds.
Mr Mochoboroane made the allegations during a recent meeting organised by the Transformation Resource Center (TRC) in Maseru.
He however, did not name the committee members who received the death threats in the wake of the committee’s public hearings with different government departments which have unearthed massive irregularities in the use of public funds.
Apart from Mr Mochoboroane of the Movement for Economic Change party, the committee is made up of Sam Rapapa, ‘Manthabiseng Ramakoae, Likopo Mahase, Nyapane Kaya, Thabo Sofonea (All Basotho Convention), Mothetjoa Metsing (Lesotho Congress for Democracy), Mathibeli Mokhothu and Palo Leteetee (Democratic Congress).
Mr Mochoboroane, Mr Rapapa, Ms Ramakoae, Mr Mahase, Mr Kaya and Mr Sofonea were guests of honour at the Friends’ Meeting which was hosted by the TRC on Friday.
Addressing the meeting, Mr Mochoboroane, alleged that some PAC members had been receiving death threats since the committee began its investigations in February.
“We need to ensure that this committee brings about a positive change in our country and that change will be brought by you by praying for us to remain united until we see positive results,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
“This is not an easy job. I must tell you that we are receiving regular reports that so and so must be killed before the PAC’s next session (April). You will realise we are enduring so much as a committee and if we were cowards, each of us could have said ‘why should I risk my life with this investigation.”
He however, said they remained resolute and they would interrogate all those lined up to appear before them regardless of the status of the individuals.
“Some people feel very strongly about eliminating some of us to protect their lives and their dignity. We are in a situation where our lives are under threats. We are asking you to assist by praying for us because we don’t have any other country to sacrifice ourselves for except this one. We must sacrifice ourselves for this country to ensure that our children don’t spit on our graves for failing to develop this country.”
He said his was a strong team which had put its party loyalties to serve the country and ensure that it corrects the unfortunate status quo which was now seen as a norm in Lesotho.
“We are not dealing with party politics and we have agreed that we need to work really hard to conduct our investigations despite the death threats.”
The PAC began its investigations last month and has since recommended that four civil servants be imprisoned or fined M1 000 each for lying to the committee on the use of state funds.
The portfolio committee last month recommended that an official in the Ministry of Education and Training’s Education Facilities Unit (EFU), ‘Maliteboho Makhoali, be jailed for misusing M300 000 earmarked for the development of a school in Ketane.
The PAC also recommended that Berea District Council Secretary, ‘Mathabang Tlali; Economic Planner, Ntsotiseng Motaung and another official identified as Mosebi Mokhubu be each slapped with a one-year jail terms or a M1 000 fine for lying to the committee.
The trio had lied that the Berea District Council had constructed roads in the Ha Makoanyane area. This was disputed by the councilor, Tšepang Mzilikazi, who came rushing to parliament immediately after hearing the trio’s presentations which were aired on national radio and television.
Soon after, the PAC visited Berea and established that the three roads had not been constructed as alleged by the Berea District Council officials.
The PAC’s hearings are currently on hold to allow different parliamentary portfolio committees to deal with the 2018/19 budget. Mr Mochoboroane said they used the break to visit all the country’s 10 districts on a fact-finding mission concerning some of the issues raised in the Auditor General’s reports.
Meanwhile, Councilor Mzilikazi asked the committee if it was in a position to protect him and other whistleblowers, saying he had also been threatened by some people who were angered by the statements he made before the PAC regarding the three roads in Berea.
“I want to know whether or not you have the power to protect people like me who gave you tip-offs because right now I am under attack from people who want to force me to retract the statements I made even though the statements were true,” Mr Mzilikazi said.
In response, Mr Mochoboroane said, “the committee has the powers to protect whistleblowers and you must write a detailed report to the committee tabling your grievances and we will ensure that you are protected”.