MASERU — Home Affairs principal secretary Retšelisitsoe Khetsi is on his way out of the civil service, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
Highly placed sources in government said Khetsi was told two months ago that his services were no longer required.
A source said Khetsi is now negotiating his exit package from the government.
“He is still the PS but is no longer performing the role of a PS,” said a source close to the issue.
“His job is now being done by someone else,” the source added.
“As we speak now there is someone who is attending meetings in the PS’s capacity.”
An investigation by this paper has revealed that Khetsi fell out with Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo after he failed to explain some of his decisions relating to the controversial award of a multimillion maloti ID tender to Nikuv International Projects, an Israeli company, earlier this year.
Highly placed sources said as Molapo started checking the M298 million deal signed in March after a secret tender, he stumbled on some information that pointed to irregularities in the way Khetsi had handled issues as the ministry’s chief accounting officer.
The source said Molapo asked Khetsi why he had signed the contract with Nikuv International three months before it was approved by cabinet.
As revealed by the Lesotho Times a fortnight ago, Khetsi signed the deal with Nikuv International two months before former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili had even discussed it with cabinet.
The cabinet’s approval of the deal only reached Khetsi’s office a month after the cabinet decision. That means Khetsi actually signed the deal three months before he received cabinet approval.
This is highly irregular according to government regulations. It also raised suspicions of corruption.
Apparently Khetsi as the chief accounting officer was one of the people who managed the secret tender.
Sources said when Khetsi failed to give clear explanations of what happened, Molapo then told him that he could no longer work with him.
“That is when Khetsi got his dismissal letter and negotiations for his exit package started,” the source said.
Apart from the fact that the contract was signed before cabinet approval, Khetsi is also said to have failed to give “satisfactory answers” on other details of the tender process. Molapo wanted details of who was in the tender selection panel that gave the contract to Nikuv International.
He also wanted to understand what criteria the ministry had used to invite companies for a secret tender.
He also queried why companies that had initially bid for the contract when it was still under the Millennium Challenge Account were not invited for the secret tender.
The minister is also said to have asked what criteria the ministry had used to ascertain that the government was getting value for money when it agreed to sign a contract worth M289 million with Nikuv International.
Molapo declined to comment on the matter when he was contacted for comment yesterday referring the Lesotho Times to government secretary, Motlatsi Ramafole.
Ramafole said he was not aware that Khetsi was on his way out of the civil service.
“I am not aware that Mr Khetsi is on his way out over Nikuv tender issues. That hasn’t been brought to my attention,” Ramafole said in a brief email response yesterday.
Several attempts to contact Khetsi failed yesterday as his mobile phone was not reachable.