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Sekata is new PAC chairperson

…guns for Justice Mahase’s husband, son

’Marafaele Mohloboli

OPPOSITION Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Secretary General Teboho Sekata is the new chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

He takes over from Movement for Economic Change leader and newly appointed Development Planning Minister Selibe Mochoboroane. Under Mr Mochoboroane’s three-year leadership, the PAC made headlines by exposing high-profile corruption in government institutions.

In an interview with the Sunday Express in the aftermath of his Wednesday election, Mr Sekata acknowledged that it would not be easy following in Mr Mochoboroane’s footsteps.

He however, said he was up to the challenge and was confident of doing well “as long as PAC members pulled together as a team”. He vowed to work “more closely than before” with the police and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offence (DCEO) to ensure all corruption cases are prosecuted including that of Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase’s husband, Thabiso, and son, Teboho.

The duo is accused of stealing M3, 6 million meant for old age pensions. Despite their arrest on 13 December 2017 in connection with the cash which disappeared from the Mafeteng Post Office in December 2016, the duo is yet to be tried. It is not clear why the trial has not been held.

“I am up for the challenge of stopping the misuse of public funds by public servants who take advantage of poor accounting systems,” Mr Sekata said.

“The PAC has done well in a lot of instances, showing that it can act against corruption. Some public officials have been tried and jailed after being exposed by the PAC. But there are some cases that are still to be prosecuted despite that the PAC gathered and submitted all the relevant evidence.

“We will work very closely with the police and the DCEO to ensure that all corruption cases are prosecuted to finality. No one is above the law and everyone has to be accountable for the use of public funds. The PAC still has a case before the courts- that of Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase’s husband and son who are accused of stealing pensioners’ money in Mafeteng. We don’t know why it is a problem to set a trial date for that case.

“This is one of the many cases my committee will work to ensure is prosecuted. We will also liaise with the Prime Minister (Moeketsi Majoro) to sack any minister who is implicated in the misappropriation of funds,” said Mr Sekata.

During his time at the helm of the PAC, Mr Mochoboroane often lambasted the police and the DCEO for allegedly failing to follow up and prosecute alleged corruption cases against people in high offices.

Among the cases brought to the police and DECO’s attention last year was the alleged embezzlement of M690 million from the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) and M32 million from the Lerotholi Polytechnic. The allegations arose out of the PAC’s interrogations of public servants after it had scrutinised the Auditor General’s reports for the 2013/2014, 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 financial years.

The PAC also demanded an update from DCEO Director General, Advocate Mahlomola Manyokole, and Deputy Police Commissioner, Paseka Mokete, on the M5 million that was allegedly misappropriated by the ceremonies committee for His Majesty, King Letsie III’s 50th birthday in 2013. A Home Affairs ministry official, Khahliso Soro, was found dead in September 2018 after threatening to implicate senior ministry officials in the issue.

Mr Mochoboroane said the police and DCEO’s “reluctance” to investigate the cases “lent” credence to allegations in some quarters that they feared top government officials and would not dare touch them even when there was evidence against them.

But in an interview with this publication this week, Advocate Manyokole denied the allegations that the anti-graft body was reluctant to investigate high profile politicians.

He said it took time to investigate and build solid cases against suspects. He said despite its enthusiasm, the PAC had lay people who lacked the expertise to investigate and build strong cases that would prove the guilt of suspects beyond reasonable doubt as per the requirements of criminal law.

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