THE Minister of Mining, Keketso Sello, has defended his decision to renew the work permit of Letšeng Diamonds’ Mining Manager, Alfred Madowe. Mr Sello said the permit was renewed after the mine authorities convinced him that Mr Madowe was the only person eligible for the position.
Mr Madowe recently made the news after the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Selibe Mochoboroane, questioned why his work permit had been renewed after the expiry of the initial two years.
Mr Mochoboroane said it was disturbing that the Zimbabwean national could have been assisted by senior government officials to renew his work permit.
“He (Mr Madowe) has been mentioned as one of the expatriates whose work permit extension was questionable,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
“He is one of the people who are undeserving of the work permit. Expatriates are allowed to have two-year work permits. (Mr) Madowe has overstayed his welcome.
“The law stipulates that only expatriates with rare skills that we do not have in Lesotho are eligible for work permits. They are bound to transfer those skills to locals. However, it seems he (Mr Madowe) has taken a long time without transferring the said skills,” he said.
“The PAC has been particularly concerned to see a letter written by Honourable Keketso Sello that extends the tenure of Mr Madowe at the mine even though he has failed to transfer his skills to the locals.”
Mr Sello recently appeared before the PAC where he was asked by Mr Mochoboroane why he had facilitated the renewal of Mr Madowe’s work permit.
Mr Sello told the PAC that he had initially declined the application for the renewal of Mr Madowe’s work permit but he subsequently approved it after the mine’s management convinced him that Mr Madowe was the only one eligible for the position and that there was a plan in place for him to be understudied by a Mosotho who would take over after the expiry of Mr Madowe’s new permit.
Mr Sello said the mine management initially a Mosotho, one Letuka Moorosi had been appointed to take over but Mr Moorosi declined the offer.
Then mine management then advertised the vacancy in local media houses but no qualified candidate was found to fill the position.
“The advertisements were flighted on April and September 2017. Unfortunately, they did not find a relevant candidate. One Letuka Moorosi was approached who was seen to a competent candidate but he declined the offer. This is why they (mine management) decided that Mr Madowe as the relevant candidate to fill that position,” Mr Sello said.
He added that Mr Madowe’s work permit was only granted after the mine proposed a plan to have one Mosotho, Khoetha Masehlela, understudy Mr Madowe.
“We agreed (to renew Mr Madowe’s permit) because there was something tangible in the form of a plan for skills transfer. For us not to cripple the mining performs and its operations, we decided to given Mr Madowe the last chance. But he has to transfer the skills to Mr Masehlela without fail,” Mr Sello said.
Mr Sello said the government should shoulder the blame for failing to ensure that expatriates transferred skills to locals.