MASERU — Nokhululeko Zaly has clashed with the Minister of Communications, Tšeliso Mokhosi, barely a week after she was reinstated as principal secretary in the ministry. Zaly returned to office last Thursday after the High Court issued an interim order blocking her suspension. She was suspended on April 22 for allegedly disobeying the minister’s orders.
Her return has however triggered a new battle between her and the minister. Since last Thursday Zaly has clashed with Mokhosi on several occasions. The fights started last Monday after Zaly discovered that during her absence the minister had hired two senior officials to run the Digital Migration Unit (DMU). The DMU is supposed to oversee the migration of Lesotho from analogue to digital broadcasting. Before her suspension Zaly had told the minister that the DMU was unnecessary and costly.
But on May 16 Mokhosi appointed a new chief executive of the DMU on a three-month contract. The chief executive, whose name we have withheld, is a member of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and comes from Khubetsoana. On the same day the minister also appointed another individual, whose name we have also withheld, as a senior researcher in the DMU.
Matters are said to have come to a head when the minister instructed Zaly to buy furniture and computers for the new appointees who are already at the ministry. Mokhosi is also alleged to have instructed her to ensure that the two receive their salaries. Zaly is understood to have told the minister that she will neither buy the furniture nor process their salaries because the ministry had not budgeted for that expenditure.
Zaly is also reported to have queried the process that was used to appoint the two because they were allegedly not interviewed.
“She also said she had not seen their CVs,” said a source close to the issue. The source said Zaly had also asked whether the two qualified for the positions they now hold. “She is asking if (one of the persons) is qualified for that position and why the minister wants to appoint him on a three-month contract when the project is likely to take more than two years to implement,” the source said.
It is understood that the jobs were not advertised as is required by government regulations. Documents at hand show that although the job was not advertised the ministry was looking for someone with a Masters’ Degree in Economics, Telecommunications or Engineering to head the unit. A diploma in broadcasting or telecommunications was listed as an added advantage. This paper could not verify if new appointee has those qualifications.
An investigation by this paper has revealed that the minister went ahead with appointments despite the cabinet’s reservations. A memorandum Mokhosi wrote to the cabinet seeking the approval to establish the DMU was withdrawn. This means that the cabinet has either rejected the request or raised queries about it.
Zaly and the minister have also disagreed on how to handle the Lesotho Post Bank issue.
The minister abruptly cancelled a Lesotho Post Bank board meeting Zaly had convened on May 23. Zaly had opened the board meeting last Thursday before attending another meeting at a local hotel. Upon her return she was told that the minister had dismissed board members from the meeting. In a letter seen by this paper, the minister said he had postponed the meeting until further notice.
Zaly has also clashed with the minister over a delegation the ministry wants to send to a summit to Switzerland. ’Maseqobela Williams who is Zaly’s deputy, director of science and technology Lefa Thamae and senior research officer Tšepo Ntho have applied to attend the 6th Session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development in Geneva next month.
Zaly allegedly rejected the application saying the ministry did not have money. She is said to have then asked the three to write letters to justify why they should attend the meeting. Thamae and Tšepo wrote letters but Williams did not. Williams is alleged to have gone to the minister who immediately approved her trip, a move that angered Zaly. Zaly is said to be unhappy that the minister is now dealing directly with Williams. There is already bad blood between Zaly and Williams, a source said.
“Today (Wednesday) they were fighting over a government vehicle. Zaly wanted to send the vehicle to collect some things in South Africa but Williams said she was using the car.” “She refused to hand over the keys and Zaly instructed Avis to disable the car so that Williams does not use it,” the source said.
Mokhosi declined to comment when approached yesterday, insisting this paper reveals its source first.
“You want to protect your source and at the same time you want me to comment publicly,” Mokhosi said.
“Write whatever you want to write without my comment.”