MASERU — The acting principal secretary in the Cabinet Office has been sent on forced leave “until further notice”, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
Thato Masiloane, who has been acting since last year, was told not to report for duty by Government Secretary Motlatsi Ramafole on Monday.
Ramafole confirmed that Masiloane had indeed been told to stay at home.
“It is true that she has been told to stay at home pending transfer to another government ministry,” Ramafole said.
“I wrote her a letter clearly stating that her stay at home will continue pending transfer to another ministry.”
Masiloane confirmed that she had been sent on leave “pending transfer to another government ministry”.
“It is true that the GS wrote me a letter instructing me to go on leave pending transfer to another government ministry,” Masiloane said.
Asked why she thought Ramafole had put her on leave Masiloane said she had no idea.
“Why this is being done I have no clue. I also did not ask because there is a Public Service clause that says a civil servant can work in any government department or ministry,” Masiloane said.
At the time of going to press last night it was not possible to establish whether Masiloane’s forced leave was linked to any wrongdoing.
But people close to her told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that she believes the “decision might be politically motivated”.
“She has told those close to her that the GS’s decision could be politically motivated but that she would wait to hear from him,” said Masiloane’s colleague who refused to be named.
Masiloane has been acting PS since the late former PS Kubutu Makhakhe was sacked after being found guilty of corruption related charges in May last year.
Makhakhe’s charges emanated from an audit investigation by Nexus Forensic Services, a company engaged by the then Finance Minister Timothy Thahane to probe corruption in former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s office.
The disciplinary hearing panel recommended that instead of being fired, Makhakhe should be deployed to another post within government that did not require him to deal with procurement matters.
The government then refused to renew his contract, effectively kicking him out of the civil service.
Masiloane was charged together with Makhakhe but was acquitted of eight counts of corruption.
The disciplinary panel found no evidence connecting Masiloane to corruption in the awarding of tenders to service providers.
The charge sheet indicated that Masiloane in December 2009 unlawfully authorised payment of M12 997.50 to Clean Firm, a company owned by her alleged friend.
The charge sheet said she had awarded the cleaning contract to Clean Firm “for no valid reason other than the consideration of friendship, thus failing to serve the people of Lesotho with respect and promote their welfare and lawful interests”.
Masiloane was alleged to have authorised payment of a further M27 284.15 to Clean Firm.
It was alleged that Masiloane failed to recuse herself in the transaction, thus failing to excel in her endeavours “by being an example to others”.
She was also charged with failing to perform her duties and exercise her powers diligently and impartially and to the best of her ability.
In so doing, the charge sheet said, Masiloane brought the public service into disrepute.
Forensic auditor, Cornelia Engelbretch, had written that Masiloane “is a friend of the owner of the cleaning company”. The tribunal however found that there was no evidence that the two were friends.
Makhakhe, who died earlier this year, was suspended for corruption after he was alleged to have approved payments to companies linked to his wife.