Civil service union boss suspended

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MASERU – The executive secretary of Lesotho Public Service Staff Association (LEPSSA), S’khulumi Ntsoaole, says he was forced to go on leave by some members of the executive committee. 
Ntsoaole said he was booted out of the office on January 14 by some members of the executive committee.
He said some members of the executive committee stormed into his office and forced him to take a 25-day leave.
He said they accused him of misusing the association’s funds.
“They entered my office unexpectedly and handed me a memo that was granting an annual leave,” Ntsoaole said.
“The members told me to vacate the office with immediate effect. They said they were going to do a proper audit.”
He said they demanded that he surrenders the association’s property.
He said the move to push him out started after the same members accused him of misusing the association’s money during the annual general meeting in October last year.
“They accused me of taking some money which they said I failed to return. I did borrow some money but I returned it. I even wrote to the treasurer to make him aware of the payment. I attached a bank deposit slip.”
He said the decision to put him on forced leave was unlawful.
“The members have just shot themselves in the foot. My unlawful removal there is a drawback for the staff. They are not getting their salaries without my signature.”
The Lesotho Times is in possession of a letter that the executive committee wrote to Ntsoaole.
In the letter dated January 14 the committee instructed him to take his “annual leave with immediate effect”.
“That for proper auditing process that is long overdue, you should vacate the LEPSSA offices forthwith. Note that the executive committee reserves the right to extent your leave due to audit developments.”
“That you should hand over items listed on the hereunto attached sheets to the legal officer. The said handover should be made upon receipt of this memo in the presence of some or all of the executive committee members.
Although the memo specifically states that this was not a suspension or punishment, Ntsoaole believes that this could be part of plans to expel him from the association.
He said it was unprocedural for the association to have an audit when the executive secretary is away because he is the chief accounting officer.
Ntsoaole wrote to the committee last week informing them that the decision to send him on forced leave was illegal.
“Please note that my removal from office which is purported to be an annual leave in the fashion it happened while I was not even made aware that the office of the executive secretary would be impounded by some members of the executive Committee is unlawful…”
Ntsoaole said the decision to go on annual leave was his to make.
He said the decision to have the audit without his input had far reaching implications.
“It is my sincere hope that you will reconsider your decision sensibly and recall the executive secretary to be present during the audit process. The question of annual leave is herein entirely the prerogative of the executive secretary and cannot be forced on him,” Ntsoaole said. 
Commenting on behalf of the executive committee, deputy secretary general, ‘Mataelo Ramochela said they decided to give Ntsoaole the 25 days leave because he had never had any in a year.
“He had to take his days. Otherwise it was going to cost the association a lot of money if his days accumulated,” Ramochela said.
She said the executive committee had also realised that the office’s property was being misused under his supervision.
“The committee felt compelled to take good care of the property which is what the executive secretary had failed to do. We are not going to back down on this,” Ramochela said.

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