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Senior LRA managers quit

…‘even if are innocent, we were no longer comfortable working at the LRA after the serious allegations of corruption leveled against us’

’Marafaele Mohloboli

TWO of the suspended senior Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) managers have left the LRA after their contracts were terminated by mutual consent, the Sunday Express has established.

The two managers are Mangangole Tsikinyane who was the Chief Financial Officer and Idia Penane who served as the Chief Planning and Modernisation Officer.

Their departure was confirmed in internal memorandum to all LRA that was signed by LRA Commissioner General, Thabo Khasipe on 30 May this year.

“This serves to inform you that, through mutual consent, the employment contracts of Mr Mangangole Tsikinyane and Ms Idia Penane have been terminated with immediate effect,” Mr Khasipe wrote in the memorandum that was titled, ‘Termination of employment contracts’.

Mr Khasipe also announced that Ms Kabanyane Tladi will assume the post of Acting Chief Financial Officer while Mr Rakokoana Makoa will act as Chief Planning and Modernisation Officer until the LRA makes substantive appointments.

Commenting on their decision to leave the LRA, Mr Tsikinyane on Friday told the Sunday Express that although they won the case against their suspension, they resolved to tender their resignations because they would not be comfortable working at the tax authority after the serious allegations that were raised against them.

“We had a mutual agreement with the management after we gave them satisfactory documentation. Even though we won our court case and we were reinstated, we tendered our resignation letters because we thought it was the best thing to do.

“I felt that I wouldn’t be comfortable anymore after such allegations were levelled against me,” Mr Tsikinyane said.

Efforts to obtain comment from Mr Khasipe and the LRA public relations department proved fruitless as they were not reachable on their phones.

Mr Tsikinyane and Ms Penane are among the five senior managers who were suspended by the LRA initially for six weeks on 7 March 2018 for alleged financial misconduct.

They were suspended along with Chief Legal and Policy Officer and Acting Board Secretary, Seth Macheli, Commissioner of Enforcement Realeboha Mathaba and Head of Litigation Moutloatsi Lichaba.

They were suspended after the LRA staff union (LERASU) presented the LRA board with damning allegations of financial and governance impropriety including the misappropriation and theft of millions of LRA funds.

Their suspension was meant to facilitate an audit exercise to ascertain the veracity of LERASU’s allegations and when the six weeks lapsed in April, the LRA extended it for an indefinite period on the grounds that the investigations were not complete and required more time than initially anticipated.

All five managers challenged their suspension in the High Court in April where they sought an order for their reinstatement.

In their court papers, they cited the LRA, the LRA Board and the Commissioner General of the Lesotho Revenue Authority, Thabo Khasipe as the first, second and third respondents respectively.

They also want the High Court to declare their suspension as “unlawful, invalid and null and void with no force or effect”.

The High Court has since ruled that their suspensions were null and void and ordered their reinstatement while the LRA investigations continue. The court said the LRA had failed to justify why it was necessary to suspend them, adding therefore the investigations into their alleged financial misconduct could continue while they were at work.

In addition to the court application, the five senior managers also asked the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to investigate the corruption allegations levelled against them by the authority’s workers’ union.

They took the unusual step of requesting the anti-graft body to investigate the allegations levelled against them because they believe they are innocent and such an investigation would exonerate them.

Advocate Mathaba separately wrote to the DCEO on the 25th of March, stating among other things that, “specific allegations against me are to the effect that I am on the former LRA boss Thabo Letjama’s payroll and that I was offered a consultancy contract without following due processes”.

“It is further alleged that I had resigned from the employ of the LRA but that I was later re-employed due to my corrupt relationship with the then Commissioner General.

“In as much as the allegations…that have precipitated my suspension are spurious, I wish for these allegations to be investigated and proper action be taken in order to restore public confidence and trust in the LRA,” Adv Mathaba writes.

He further pledges his full cooperation including providing access to his personal information to facilitate the investigation.

His four suspended colleagues also penned a joint letter to the DCEO yesterday, where they  “submit ourselves to your organisation for due investigation of the serious financial impropriety allegations made against us by the LRA Staff Union (LERASU) and for which it would appear the LRA Board has decided to suspend us from duty pending a forensic audit”.

“We consider the allegations serious enough to merit your attention as the statutory body established with the specific mandate to receive and investigate any complaints alleging corruption in any public body.”

Apart from clearing their names, the quartet further state that a DCEO probe is necessary to restore public confidence in the LRA “whose image must necessarily have been critically impaired as a result of those allegations”.

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