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Setipa fires LNDC boss


LNDC CEO Kelebone Leisanyane

. . . as Leisanyane vows to challenge dismissal

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

TRADE and Industry Minister Joshua Setipa has fired Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) CEO Kelebone Leisanyane, the Sunday Express can reveal.

However, Mr Leisanyane has vowed not to “go down without a fight”, saying he would “soon” file a court application challenging the dismissal.

Mr Leisanyane’s dismissal on Friday ends a tumultuous tenure for the former Loti Brick managing director which began in December 2014. He had replaced Mr Setipa, who also left the LNDC on 30 April 2014 after a bitter fallout with the corporation’s board over a number of issues, among them alleged maladministration.

Mr Leisanyane’s relationship with Mr Setipa and the LNDC Board of Directors had been strained for much of his tenure, with the erstwhile CEO suspended twice for alleged maladministration.

Mr Leisanyane was first suspended by Mr Setipa in May last year, shortly after the LNDC board had also been suspended “to allow for a restructuring exercise” of the corporation.

The LNDC is wholly owned by the government of Lesotho and falls under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Its mandate is to initiate, promote and facilitate the development of manufacturing and processing industries, mining and commerce “in a manner calculated to raise the level of income and employment in Lesotho”.

The development finance institution also has a role to promote Lesotho as an attractive investment location and destination for both foreign and indigenous investors.

Mr Leisanyane had been suspended for allegedly failing to get tenants for the LNDC’s factory shells in Ha-Tikoe, Mohale’s Hoek and Maputsoe.

Mr Setipa had also accused Mr Leisanyane of failing to attract an investor for a planned knit fabric mill and to come up with a policy for the Special Economic Zones.

However, Mr Leisanyane successfully challenged the suspension in the High Court on grounds that the minister did not have powers to suspend the LNDC CEO. He argued that only the board had such powers.

The board also rejected its suspension by Mr Setipa, arguing the move was not justified.

The same board then suspended Mr Leisanyane again in November last year, accusing him of allegedly requesting then Trade and Industry ministry Principal Secretary Majakathata Mokoena-Thakhisi to approve the LNDC’s annual budget while the board was suspended, among other alleged offences. Mr Mokoena-Thakhisi has since been reshuffled to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

The board argued that approval of the LNDC budget without its input was a contravention of the corporation’s operational regulations, hence Mr Leisanyane’s suspension.

Mr Leisanyane was also accused of failing to follow proper procedures in leasing out a Pope John Paul II Monument plot to a prominent businessman who is also a politician.

In a statement issued by the LNDC last November, the board said it decided to suspend Mr Leisanyane after “identifying performance concerns”.

“The LNDC shareholder through the LNDC Board of Directors has identified performance concerns pertaining to management of the corporation and fulfillment of its mandate under the stewardship of the current chief executive officer – Mr Kelebone Leisanyane,” read part of the statement.

It continued: “The identified concerns warrant unhindered determination of the chief executive officer’s competence in steering the LNDC ship. Against this backdrop, the corporation’s board of directors has resolved to suspend the chief executive officer pending the necessary determination.”

On Friday, Mr Setipa sealed Mr Leisanyane’s fate, although the Sunday Express was unable establish the specific reasons for the dismissal.

However, an impeccable source privy to the matter said Mr Leisanyane had been found guilty of six out of the nine counts of offences he was charged with by the LNDC board.

“He was accused of nine counts related to his performance at the LNDC. He was however found guilty on six of those charges hence the board recommended his dismissal to the minister in January,” the source said.

The source also said Mr Setipa’s decision to dismiss Mr Leisanyane was at the behest of the LNDC board.

Mr Leisanyane yesterday confirmed his dismissal, adding that he would challenge the decision in the courts of law. He said the dismissal was the culmination of concerted efforts to dislodge him from the helm of the parastatal.

“Efforts by the minister (Mr Setipa) to dismiss me began in May last year when he suspended me and the board. I then challenged my suspension and the court ruled in my favour and ordered the minister to pay costs.

“But then again in November last year, the board instituted a kangaroo court to challenge my authority as the CEO and subsequently suspended me pending their findings. Somewhere around January this year, the board sent its recommendation to the minister to dismiss me,” he said, adding the dismissal letter from Mr Setipa ordered him to “vacate the office immediately”.

Mr Leisanyane said he was already working on a court challenge to the dismissal.

“I am currently consulting with my lawyers over this issue. I will not go down without a fight. I will soon be ready to challenge my dismissal,” he added.

For his part, Mr Setipa said he could not comment on the matter “for professional reasons” when contacted yesterday.






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