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LCA employees conflicted

Senior staff holds shares in Vodacom Lesotho

NEO SENOKO

MASERU – Some employees of Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) are under fire, face disciplinary action after the authority revealed they have shares within telecommunications giant Vodacom Lesotho. The authority says this was unearthed following investigations that fingered 11 members of staff.

Some, the authority says, are in critical management positions and have been proven to have a stake in this company that has been at loggerheads with the authority since last year.

Although the report on findings is limited to current employees, it is vital to note that several key former executive employees of the authority whose employment ended in the last 36 months had and still have an indirect interest in one of the major licensees, the LCA reveals, adding that this is based on company registry records.

Vodacom Lesotho has been accused of deliberate non-compliance, dishonesty and lack of remorse towards the laws by the LCA, a resolution which prompted the authority to slap the telecommunication giant with a whooping M134 million in penalties.

Thirty percent of the penalty was payable immediately, with the remaining 70 percent suspended for five years provided that Vodacom does not commit any further contraventions of its regulatory obligations during the said period. In the event that the company fails to comply, the LCA would proceed to revoke the unified license.

The company, according to the LCA, had among other things failed to pay its regulatory fees when they fell due and payable on or by June 30, 2019, and has further shown no remorse for deliberately appointing a relative of the chairman as its external auditor. Vodacom, however, has since challenged the matter in court – the case is still pending.

On Tuesday, the LCA, through the responsible Minister of Communications Science and Technology, Keketso Sello, revealed that 31 percent of its employees are shareholders in the company. A total of 11 out of 36 employees have been found to be shareholders, and thus “in breach of LCA regulations.”

“On September 8, 2020, when the LCA was presenting the key regulatory developments to the cabinet chaired by the prime minister, the authority was advised by the same prime minister to enhance effectiveness of regulation, that the authority should lead by example and ensure that it is in compliance with the laws of Lesotho,” the authority explains.

“Within my 100 days in office, I directed the authority to conduct an employee declaration if interest to ensure that the authority and its employees remain independent, impartial and have no conflict of interest in their dealings with licensees.

This exercise was relevant due to the ongoing court case wherein on of the dominant licensees is challenging revocation of its license due to a lapse in managing conflict of interest,” Sello said on Tuesday.

The declaration of interest by employees was guided by Section 28 of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act, of 1999.

The assessment reveals that it would be challenging for the authority to achieve its mandate and objectives of consumer protection, education, and efficient allocation of finite resources and effective management of competition due to key personnel being conflicted.

“Necessary measures are being taken to address the situation based on the severity of the harm to the authority and the public interest. These people should have declared from the beginning in order to avoid unfair competition.

At the moment we are not in a position to reveal what is going to happen to them because proceedings are still ongoing,” the minister added.

 

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