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Thabane dispels nepotism claims

Mohalenyane Phakela

LETŠENG Diamonds Company board member, Selimo Thabane, has dismissed claims that his appointment was based on nepotism on account of the fact that he is nephew to Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane.

Selimo who is one of the directors on the Letseng board with a special focus on human resources and corporate social investment, said his appointment was above board as he is qualified for the post and also a citizen of Lesotho.

He was appointed in October 2017 along with one, Moeko Mabooe, as the only Basotho in the board of the diamond mining company where the government of Lesotho has a 30 percent stake.

The majority 70 percent shareholding is in the hands of British firm, Gem Diamonds.

The other board members are chairperson, Clifford Elphick, Johnny Velloza, Glenn Turner, Michael Michael and Brandon de Bruin.

However, the appointment has torched a social media storm with some sections of the local population suggesting that he was only appointed because of his family connections.

One Facebook user recently wrote: When (Prime Minister Thabane) said that he will create jobs for the youth of this country, what he actually meant was that he will create jobs for his family”.

It was also suggested that Mr Selimo was appointed to replace Lipolelo Thabane- the murdered wife of Dr Thabane.

Ms Thabane was shot dead by an unknown assailant as she was about to drive into her Ha ‘Masana home on 14 June 2017. The incident occurred just two days before Dr Thabane’s inauguration as prime minister for the second time.

Mr Selimo, however, refuted the claims in a recent interview with the Sunday Express.

He told the Sunday Express that Mining minister, Keketso Sello, saw it fit to appoint him because of his administrative expertise.

“I was not appointed by my uncle nor appointed to replace ‘Me Lipolelo,” Mr Selimo said, adding, he was appointed after the expiry of the contracts of some of the board members.

The Letšeng Diamonds website states that Mr Selimo was appointed on merit as he holds Bachelor of Technology Degree in Labour Relations Management from Vaal University of Technology in South Africa.

“He also has a Diploma in Labour Relations Management from the same university”.

“Mr Thabane’s professional experience includes working as Human Resource Officer and Lecturer at Vaal University of Technology, as Project Coordinator for Eindhoven, Emfuleni and VUT Community Project, as Intelligence Officer for the National Security Service in Lesotho and more recently as Human Resource Specialist at Mountain Star Holdings. Mr Thabane is an experienced labour relations practitioner and he possesses astute leadership skills and experience,” the website further states.

Mr Selimo said he did not need a mining qualification to be part of the board because his role was “to make inputs on the administrative decisions of the board based on my qualifications and experience”.

“Everybody board member has a specific area of expertise and mine is solely focused on administration and human resource.”

Mr Selimo further said that like every Mosotho, he was entitled to employment in his home country and that because he is from the Thabane family does not mean he is not supposed to work.

“Surely I would not have gotten the post during Ntate (Pakalitha) Mosisili’s tenure because I am a Thabane but if people say I got the post now because my uncle is the Prime Minister do they mean that I am not supposed to work? When and where should I work then? Even if I worked outside the country people would still have something to say.

“I am a citizen of this country therefore I am also entitled to get a job not because of my relationship with the Prime Minister but based on my qualifications.”

Dr Mosisili was Lesotho’s Prime Minister before his seven parties’ coalition government was replaced by Dr Thabane’s administration in the aftermath of the 3 June 2017 snap national elections.

Dr Mosisili’s government also faced accusations of nepotism after his son, Rethabile was appointed chief delegate to the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC) in April 2017.

Shortly after taking over, Dr Thabane’s government reviewed Mr Rethabile’s controversial secondment and subsequently reversed it in a letter they wrote to him on 24 July this year.

Dissatisfied over the current government’s decision, Mr Rethabile lodged an urgent application before the High Court seeking to nullify cancellation of his appointment to the Water Commission.

However, the High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi in October 2017, dismissed his application and ordered him to pay costs of suit.

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