Senate boss fired



 MASERU – Senate Chief Research Officer ’Mota Nkuatsana has been fired with immediate effect after being found guilty of all charges brought against him, including labelling President of the Senate ’Mamonaheng Mokitimi promiscuous.

Nkuatsana, who has been embroiled in a bitter feud with Mokhitimi since last year, was however acquitted on a charge of contravening the Senate’s codes of good practice.

In essence, Nkuatsana was found guilty of writing a document supported by five principal chiefs namely; Principal Chief of Makhoakhoeng Tumane Matela, Principal Chief of Qacha’s Nek Mojela C. Makhaola, Principal Chief of Rothe Bereng M. Bereng, Principal Chief of Butha-Buthe Rets’elisitsoe Mopeli and Principal Chief of Malingoaneng Qeto Sekonyela, of insulting the President of the Senate Mokitimi, labelling her fille de joie (prostitute or loose woman).

He purportedly insinuated that the married Senate president was having an illicit love affair with her personal secretary, only identified as T. Sekese.

But, Nkuatsana is fighting back and has filed an appeal to the Public Service Tribunal although a date is yet to be set for the hearing.

In a letter dated November 12, Senate clerk Selete Molete said a disciplinary hearing held against him on March 25 this year, had found him guilty and “has recommended that you be dismissed with immediate effect”.

“Following the disciplinary action held against you on the 25th March, 2019, the disciplinary chairperson found you guilty as charged, save for the charge of a breach of discipline for contravening the Codes of Good Practice Part I clause 3(2)(i) and Public Service Regulations 89 (3).

“It has been recommended that you be dismissed with immediate effect.”

However, Molete tells the 56 year-old Nkuatsana that his departure would be treated as though he had retired at 60 years old.

“Your dismissal will be treated as if you retired from the Public Service upon attaining sixty years of age. You will be paid all our terminal benefits as if you are sixty years of age.

“It should be noted that you are not owed a salary as if you are sixty years. We wish you all the best in all your endeavors.”

According to the charge sheet used at the hearing, chaired by Ministry of Home Affairs Principal Secretary ’Machabana Lemphane Letsie, and attended by Senate Human Resource Manager Falali Koelane – Nkuatsana contravened Codes of Good Practice 2008, Codes of Conduct and Disciplinary Code; and Breach of Discipline By a Public Officer.

The first count being Disciplinary Action Against a Public Officer, reads that in his capacity as a public officer and Chief Research Officer of the Senate in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Nkuatsana is guilty of a breach of discipline for contravening the Codes of Good Practice I clause 3(I) (L) and as such “you are liable to disciplinary proceedings and punishment according to law”.

On the charge, Nkuatsana is accused of having, together with five Principal Chiefs who are also Senators, on around November 6, 2018 drafted a document “that you labelled a ‘petition’ using insulting and intimidating words against President of the Senate ‘Mamonaheng Mokitimi and her Personal Secretary Mr. T. Sekese”.

“In this document you used words like fille de joie (loose woman/prostitute-in English), (perfidiousness meaning deceitful and untrustworthy, manipulative) against the President of the Senate,” reads the charge sheet.

“You further used insulting words against Honourable President of the Senate and her Private Secretary, where you called them suspected paramour-cum and paramour means a lover, especially an illicit partner of a married person and many other degrading words.

“The above conduct constitutes an offence of failure to refrain from use of insulting words to the authority and fellow public officers, and showing disrespect to any of them and therefore contravenes the above referred to provisions.”

Count two states that in his capacity as a public officer, Nkuatsana is guilty of a breach of discipline for contravening the Codes of Good Practice Part I clause 3(2) (i) and Public Service Regulations (89) (3), and as such is “liable to disciplinary hearing and punishment by the law”.

In this instance he is accused of on January 13, 18 and 24, 2019 circulating to Moeletsi oa Basotho and Public Eye newspapers, as well as Lesotho Television, Heads of Department minutes of October 11, 2018, budget and communication between Attorney-General and the Clerk to the Senate respectively “without authorization from competent authority”.

“You directly revealed information acquired by you from the above documents without authorization by competent authority for private purposes,” reads the charge.

On the third count, Nkuatsana was found guilty of breaching discipline for contravening Codes of Good Practice Part I clause 3 (2) (j), and as such you are “liable to a disciplinary proceedings and punishment according to the law”.

“The above conduct constitutes failure to report in writing to an officer senior to the one giving an instruction, an unlawful, improper, unethical instruction in breach of the constitution and inconsistent with the Public Service Act, and therefore contravenes above-mentioned provisions,” reads the charge.

In the fourth count on which he is also found guilty, Nkuatsana is accused of insubordination wherein he allegedly refused to terminate all assignments given to him by MPs and Senators unbeknownst to the Clerk of the Senate Molete, and failure to update him (Molete) on his day-to-day activities or to attend only to assignments approved by Molelete.

“You were further instructed by the Clerk to the Senate that your supervisors need to be aware of your day to day duties. You however, despite this lawful instruction attended a meeting with called by President of the Senate of 13th November 2018, without the sanction of the Clerk, and without being invited by the President, and in this meeting you were presenting the Senators as their advisor,” reads the charge.

“The above conduct constitutes an offence of insubordination to the Clerk and to the authority of the Senate, in that you failed to comply with, or wilfully disregarded a lawful instruction given by proper authority.”

However, Nkuatsana argues that Lemphane-Letsie “erred and misdirected herself” in holding that the petition by the five principal chiefs in which Mokitimi was allegedly labelled promiscuous, was his when evidence showed that that petition had been “authored by members of the Senate under the hand of the appellant”.

“The evidence of the complainant indicated that the Senators owned the document and made it clear that it was their document”.

“The chairperson of the disciplinary hearing should not have found the appellant guilty of the misconduct for which he was charged in count one simply because, the appellant acting on the instructions of the members of Senate, authored the document the content of which they approved by appending their signatures thereto,” Nkuatsana says in his appeal.

“The chairperson of the disciplinary hearing erred and misdirected herself in holding as she did, that because the appellant wrote the petition to reflect the intentions and the message members of the Senate who complained against the President of the Senate, the appellant was vicariously liable for the words he had been instructed to use in the document.”

Furthermore, Nkuatsana asserts Lemphane-Letsie should not have found him guilty on the first count because when he authored the document in question, he was “simply executing lawful instructions” from his superiors.

“The chairperson of the disciplinary hearing therefore erred and misdirected herself in holding as she did, that the appellant was guilty of complying with an unlawful, improper or unethical instruction, in as much as he cannot be held vicariously liable for the language that members of the Senate chose in addressing their petition.

“The chairperson of the disciplinary hearing erred and misdirected herself in finding the appellant guilty as charged on count four, on the ground that the appellant was guilty of insubordination when he did not refuse to comply with instructions of the members of the Senate.

“The complainant (Molete) did not have the powers and would not be entitled to deprive members of the Senate of the right to instruct the appellant on any legitimate and lawful business of the Senate, including authoring a petition. The chairperson of the disciplinary therefore should not have found the appellant guilty on all the charges and should accordingly have acquitted the appellant.”

According to the petition signed by the five Principal Chiefs, Mokitimi should have been removed from her position as President of the Senate for abuse of office.

The abuse of Senate coffers referred to in the petition, refered primarily to the revised 2018/19 budget, which was reviewed and the bulk of the of the funds re-allocated to votes namely 421011 and 421012 which are Fares International and Subsistence International respectively, which benefitted to the tune M967 569 upon revision of the original budget.

Under the same Travel and Transport head which the petitioners have a major gripe with, the Fares (International) vote was hiked by a whopping M569, 355 from M917, 145 to M1, 486, 500 and the Subsistence International increased by M407, 214 from the approved M605, 362 to a revised M1, 012, 576.

In the petition, the chiefs said were acting cognizant of the constitutional process of the election of Mokitimi that took place in the Senate Chamber, as provided for in section 62 (1) and (3), Standing Order No. 8 of the Rules of Procedure of the Honourable House on 11th July, 2017, but that they were also willing “to impress without equivocation that treatment of government coffers as fille de joie will not be tolerated by this honourable house” and that they were “determined to show that the Senate views professional impropriety with repugnance, and do resolve to petition the President of the Senate”.

“This very year of 2018, in a typical recidivist-style, the Honourable President in partnership with the de facto Clerk of the Senate, and with a common purpose of achieving self-aggrandisement by deliberately misappropriating the approved budget of 2018/19, and specifically manipulated a host of other votes to benefit two votes, namely votes 421011 and 421012, which are Fares international and Subsistence International respectively,” reads the petition.

“Evidence will show that the de facto Clerk to the Senate (Selete Molete), with ‘sanction’ by the Honourable President of the Senate ‘Mamonaheng Mokitimi, caused the Financial Controller Nts’epase Makara, to unilaterally revise the Approved Budget (without the Senate Budget Team) to the detriment of many other votes and programmes, and to the benefit of the two votes herein mentioned.”

They further alleged that as a result of revised budget, within the first six months of the allocation of the main budget by parliament, the Senate was already in a state of paralysis and unable to function.

“Upon analysis it will be clear why the two mentioned votes were the primary beneficiaries of such manipulations of the approved budget, in such a way that during the first half (within six months) of the current financial year (2018/19) the Senate Head 39 was in a state of paralysis,” the petitioners said.


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