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PS Makhakhe appeals

Mantoetse Maama

MASERU — Kubutu Makhakhe, the principal secretary in the prime minister’s office, has appealed against an internal probe’s ruling that found him guilty of corruption related charges last month.

Makhakhe, who was found guilty of seven of the 10 charges he was facing, submitted his letter of appeal on May 24.

In the letter addressed to the chairman of the disciplinary panel Monehela Phosholi, Makhakhe says the ruling was “very unfair and unprocedural”.

“In a nutshell, the ruling casts aspersions of the highest order on my immaculate reputation and this is unacceptable to say the least,” Makhakhe says. “Probably a recommendation and not a ruling would be appropriate here.”

Phosholi, who is also the chief executive of the Lesotho Communications Authority, ruled that Makhakhe was guilty of negligence and bringing the civil service into disrepute when he approved the payment of invoices for companies linked to his wife Mathungthung Makhakhe.

He said Makhakhe had failed to lead by example and exercise impartiality when he approved the payments to Ntsepeng Suppliers and Botle Business Furniture.

Posholi said Makhakhe had failed to serve the “lawful interests” of Basotho when he approved the payment despite the fact that invoices had his wife’s telephone numbers and postal addresses.

But despite the verdict Phosholi’s judgment recommended that instead of being fired Makhakhe should be reassigned to another government post that does not deal with procurement and tenders.

In his appeal, Makhakhe argues that during the hearing he was not given the forensic audit report from which his 10 charges had emanated.

He says the fact he had never been allowed to look at the report shows that there is some “chicanery” going on.

“Even in a court of law a person gets every information (sic) related to a given case,” Makhakhe says.

“It was surprising that I was suspended after the Forensic Audit report was produced and not when the investigation was initiated as it is normally the case when investigations are conducted.”

He also argues that the government secretary, Tlohang Sekhamane, who was the complainant in the case, failed to provide concrete evidence to prove that the two companies were indeed linked to his wife.

During the hearing Sekhamane produced Makhakhe’s marriage certificate as evidence to prove that link but Phosholi ruled that the only conclusive evidence would be details from the Registrar of Companies showing that Makhakhe’s wife was a director of the two companies.

Makhakhe has seized on this finding to strengthen and justify his appeal.

“There was no proof of ownership of the said companies, by my wife, from the Registrar of Companies; and that the original payment vouchers were not provided in both sittings (of hearing).”

He also argues that there was no way Phosholi could have been a fair adjudicator because he was appointed by Sekhamane who happened to be the complainant.

“You certainly could not go against the person who appointed you,” Makhakhe says, adding that “In the interests of fairness, one cannot be a referee and a player at the same time”.

He alleges that Sekhamane’s charges against him were based on “hearsay” and that during the cross examination he “dwelled mostly on my personal life instead of the issues at stake”.

Makhakhe says he does not understand why he was charged of corruption when the payments for both Ntsepeng Suppliers and Botle Business Furniture “were below the threshold of M30 000 as required by the law”.

He also takes issue with the fact that although there were six companies that were said to be linked to his wife the charges he faced only related to two companies.

Phosholi, Makhakhe argues, also ignored crucial evidence from ’Marapelang Raphuthing, the finance director in the prime minister’s office, who testified on his behalf during the hearing.

Raphuthing was also suspended together with Makhakhe in February for corruption-related charges but is yet to go through a disciplinary hearing.

Makhakhe also claims that the charge sheet that Sekhamane presented to the panel was not signed.

Phosholi is yet to set a date to hear the appeal but Makhakhe told the Sunday Express yesterday that if he loses he will take his case to the Public Service Tribunal.

And if he does not get any joy at the Public Service Tribunal he will take his case to the courts.

In the meantime until his case has been finalised he will continue to enjoy his full salary and benefits.

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