MASERU – The Basotho National Party (BNP) this week failed to show up in the case in which they have taken former secretary general, Tšepo Lethobane, to court to answer charges of misusing party funds. Lethobane was suspended last year on allegations of embezzling party funds, a decision effected on the recommendation of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) which had perused reports from its sub-committee indicating that there were party funds that could not be accounted for. Investigations suggested that at least M46 000 could not be accounted for.
However, Lethobane’s deputy, Moeketsi Hanyane, told Public Eye following this no-show in the Maseru Magistrate Court that the party had applied for a rescission. This paper further learnt from BNP spokesperson, ’Masetota Leshota, that the party’s national working committee would be meeting on Tuesday next week to map a way forward on the matter.
Party leader Machesetsa Mofomobe said at the party’s annual general meeting a fortnight ago in Mafeteng that he was ready to leave office if members of the party were not happy with his decision to suspend the party’s secretary general, Lethobane – following emergence of a chorus of discontent from the party’s ranks at the secretary’s suspension.
Mofomobe said after receiving complaints about mismanagement of the party’s finances, he demanded bank statements from Lethobane who failed to produce them claiming that former leader of BNP, Thesele ’Maseribane, had not signed them. But when Mofomobe investigated the matter further, he found out that Lethobane had lied about the signatures and, instead, the party leader found out that there was no money in the party’s account. He reported his findings to the conference.
Mofomobe also noted that the bank statement shows that some tenants at the BNP Centre paid rent through digital platforms so their transactions did not reflect in the bank account. He said some tenants were found to have been paying the money straight to Lethobane. He said Lethobane even took money from BNP workers who were paying salary advances and kept it to himself.
“Around eight tenants’ transactions are not reflected in the bank statement. These eight tenants were asked to present proof of payment and we found that a tenant that was supposed to pay a rent of M11 000 has been given a discount and has been paying only M5 000. The one who was paying M7 000 was now paying M4 000 and the money was being paid directly into Lethobane’s Mpesa account. This he did despite us paying him a monthly salary of M18,000,” Mofomobe revealed.
He said to ensure that mistake like this is not repeated, he has directed the secretary general and the treasurer not to sign for any of the party’s money without his knowledge, and that he as well should not sign for the money with the treasurer without the secretary general’s approval.
He further noted that he has hired a bookkeeper who will handle the requisition part. Speaking to this publication, Lethobane confirmed that his accusers were not in court on the day of the hearing, troubled though that he only received his summons on Wednesday. He declined to comment on the matter as he is yet to appear in court.
“Even though Machesetsa is already making noise about these allegations and publicizing them, they are yet to be interrogated in court. I have been suspended for nine months and only got a summon to report to court today (Wednesday). My case will be heard tomorrow. “Can I please reserve my comment,” Lethobane said to this reporter.