Axe looms over NSS agents

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE government has stepped up its restructuring of the security sector with 54 National Security Service (NSS) agents who were allegedly hired without following the due processes set to be slapped today with “show cause” letters for why they should not be dismissed.

Since its inauguration on 16 June 2017, the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane-led government has shaken up the country’s security agencies, with Lesotho Mounted Police Service Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa being given his marching orders last month. Acting Commissioner Holomo Molibeli is expected to replace the top cop on a permanent basis.

Lesotho Correctional Service Commissioner, ‘Matefo Makhalemele, was also sent on a 57-day forced leave last month which is usually a precursor to dismissal.

At the NSS, Dr Thabane appointed Pheello Ralenkoane as the spying agency’s director-general last month. Mr Ralenkoane was appointed to the post to replace Colonel Tumo Lekhooa who was sent back to his old job as Military Intelligence director at the Lesotho Defence Force.

Mr Ralenkoane was recalled after serving in the NSS for almost 33 years before retiring in October 2015.

The new regime at the NSS has set about restructuring the agency, with the 54 agents facing the boot for being overqualified and, in some cases, overaged.

According to an advert the NSS posted for the jobs last year, applicants were not supposed to have university degree qualifications but diplomas. The applicants were also supposed to be between the ages 18 and 25 years, with the NSS human resources office saying there were some agents who were in their mid to late thirties.

These agents were hired between December 2016 and May 2017, with some having already been trained while others were still to undergo training.

Agents who were promoted on 5 December 2016 and 1 May 2017 were also set to be returned to their former positions amid allegations the proper procedures were not followed.

This development has not gone down well with the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), with its spokesperson Teboho Sekata accusing the government of having a political agenda.

Mr Sekata queried Mr Ralenkoane’s appointment citing the latter’s unsuccessful run for a parliamentary seat in the 3 June 2017 elections representing the Basotho National Party in the Kolo constituency. Mr Ralenkoane lost to a Democratic Congress candidate.

“Appointing Ralenkoane as the NSS director-general was not a wise move because this is a man who contested in the 3 June snap elections under the BNP banner,” he said.

“They are now employing their own people and doing away with the current bunch because they support the congress movement.”

Defence Minister Sentje Lebona declined to comment on the matter when contacted by the Lesotho Times yesterday.

 

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