Sports Commission’s CEO post under spotlight

As disgruntled Commissioners protest, threaten legal action

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – Officers in the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) are up in arms and have challenged the Commission’s handling of issues surrounding the appointment of its CEO. The incumbent LSRC CEO (acting), Teboho Malataliana, has been in office beginning November last year, pro tem in the position on two consecutive three-months terms that Commissioners argue is flouting national labour laws and becoming an unlawful practice adopted by the Commission. The officers indicated this conduct by the Commission “is unacceptable since it borders on nepotistic appointments to the post disregarding labour laws as a regular practice within the LSRC when it comes to this particular position. A person appointed to act in this position can only serve for three months, as stipulated in our labour laws.”

Malataliana’s appointment, and extension outside legal provisions, is not the first to attract controversy within the LSRC; the Commission’s current Development Manager, Mofihli Makoele, overstayed his expected three months appointment as CEO before he was replaced by Sechaba Mokhameleli who was, upon resignation, replaced by Malataliana in an acting stint. “Malataliana’s acting term is over. He was initially engaged to act as CEO for three months, which was extended for a further three months; the law stipulates that such an appointment is only for three months, but our executive committee chose to extend the contract contrary to the law…why?” a source this paper spoke to asked.

Public Eye has been reliably informed that Makoele has since written to the Commission informing them of his intention to sue the sports governing body for breaking the law in allowing appointed CEOs to hold office beyond the period allowed by law. And the LSRC PRO, Teboho Rakhomo, confirmed the development to this paper, indicating they have received Makoele’s letter though he could not be drawn into discussing its contents “as the case might already be in the courts of law.”            

“I cannot comment on Mr Makoele’s letter except to acknowledge receipt and confirm his intention to sue,” said Rakhomo in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday. On the issue of the current acting CEO expiry of tenure, Rakhomo said the executive committee was supposed to meet on Tuesday and yesterday (Thursday) to further discuss the issue with the Commissioners. “The engagement of the current CEO is still within the terms of the law, and we are about to meet today as the executive to discuss the same issue. It forms part of our agenda in today’s meeting, we will convene a similar meeting with the Commissioners on Thursday on the same matter,” he said.

“But I take note that it is very much irregular to be discussing matters of this nature outside our official meetings with the Commissioners, that is the only platform to discuss this and it’s odd for some of them to debate them in this manner. We have discussed this issue (of the current acting CEO’s term of office) in our platforms, having come up as a reminder by one of us that his term of office is over,” he continued. Rakhomo said the sitting has agreed to follow proper procedures in dealing with the issue in contention.

“But I also want to shed light on the fact that the CEO’s appointment is the sole responsibility of the Minister of Sports and he/she is the one who makes the decision on them being engaged permanently or in an acting position. The Commission just makes recommendations as well as facilitate necessary processes and procedures to be followed for the appointment,” Rakhomo said. He revealed that even when recruiting people for the post “we do so as a Commission but on behalf of the sports minister.”

“After doing all those recruitment processes we inform the minister about a candidate for the post as a form of recommendation. But we, however, are within our rights according to the Commission’s policies to recommend a person other than whoever may have passed our interviews to occupy the position of CEO; but at the end of the day it is the minister’s prerogative to make his choice of a candidate,” he added. Rakhomo alleged the continuation of Malataliana’s rein at the top of the LSRC was at the behest of former sports minister, Dr Mahali Phamotse, who ordered the Commission to allow him to continue his tenure until the end of July – on a further three months to his initial contract.

“This was after we put our financial situation before her, showing we could not afford to pay a CEO,” he said. A similar decision had been reached in previous years during the stewardship of then sports minister, Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane, with the late Kholoang Mokalanyane at the helm of the LSRC and his leadership challenged in the High Court of Lesotho “And we lost that case in that the ultimate decision of hiring a CEO rests with the sports minister,” Rakhomo recalled.

Rakhomo indicated Malataliana’s second three-month term as LSRC head just ended on Monday this week, “hence the Tuesday executive committee and the Commissioners’ meeting on Thursday.” “We are aware and respectful of the fact that a CEO can only be engaged for a three months period as dictated by law per provisions of the Labour Code of this country. We know that this week is the end of the incumbent CEO’s three months’ tenure as head of the LSRCS,” he said. “We would be contravening the law if we would let somebody act in the post for more than what the law provides,” Rakhomo said.

Whilst issues surrounding the legitimate appointment of an LSRC head continues, sources privy to this paper reason they are yet to understand from the courts of law what the interpretation of the subject provisions is and what the eventual verdict will be. The Commissioners remain convinced that the executive committee is bent on irregular and, perhaps, illegal decisions that can only be understood to be corrupt “and not because the decisions are uninformed but because they are well planned.”

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