MASERU – Communications regulator, Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) has been ordered to stop disciplinary proceedings against its suspended boss, Maramane Matela, at least until the Appeal Court has determined an application in which Matela challenges her suspension from the authority. Former Communications Minister, Keketso Sello suspended Matela from her position effective from June 2, 2021.
The suspension is said to be pending an investigation into her role in the awarding of over M500 million tender to South African company, Global Voice Group (GVG) but Judge Polo Banyane declined jurisdiction when she was asked to reverse the suspension in the Labour Court review. This prompted Matela to approach the Court of Appeal but while the matter was pending, she was on August 10 served with a notice of yet another disciplinary proceeding against her.
This time the board intends to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the question of her fitness to hold the office of CEO. She approached the Labour Court in a bid to nullify the notice and asked the court to order her reinstatement. She also asked the court to declare that she is entitled to a hearing before a tribunal can be established to investigate her.
The Labour Court yesterday came to Matela’s rescue and ordered LCA to stop its disciplinary inquiry, declaring it “null and void” until the Apex Court decides on Matela’s suspension challenge. “The matter of disciplinary inquiry be stayed pending and judgement in the matter of Marame Matela vs Lesotho Communications Authority & 13 others C of A (CIV) No.35/21” When Minister Sello suspended Matela on June 2, it was hardly a week after she accused the minister of demanding sexual favours from her to secure her job.
Matela also accused the minister of refusing to approve the GVG tender until he was given a M3 million bribe. Matela also claimed that the minister had demanded that his company be subcontracted by GVG before he could approve the tender. The tender was for the supply of compliance monitoring and revenue assurance systems. In her court papers challenging the suspension, Matela alleges that Minister Sello replaced her with Goolam so as to protect communications company, Vodacom Lesotho from being sanctioned by the LCA.
Goolam’s appointment, she argues, is a plan to reverse LCA’s October 2020 decision to revoke Vodacom Lesotho’s operating license. LCA took the decision after the company failed to comply with a directive to pay a M40.2 million fine for violations. Vodacom approached the courts of law and obtained an interim High Court interdict against the LCA’s decision but the court is yet to make a final determination on the matter.