Health procurement chief suspended

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Billy Ntaote

THE Ministry of Health has suspended its procurement manager, Rorisang Abia Malefane, over his alleged mishandling of multi-million dollar procurement contracts.

Mr Malefane is now expected to be hauled before a disciplinary hearing into his alleged misconduct.

Efforts to get official comment on the suspension failed this week. Mr Malefane nonetheless confirmed his suspension to this newspaper while refusing to divulge the reasons.

The office of the Ministry of Health’s Principal Secretary Tsietsi Lebakae, said he was too busy and would return our calls later, but had not done so at the time of going to print. Health Minister Dr Molotsi Monyamane’s phone rang unanswered.

However, the Lesotho Times, is reliably informed that Mr Malefane’s relations with his bosses had broken down over his handling of several lucrative tenders.

Mr Malefane, the sources said, was accused of having failed to announce timeously a call for tenders for provision of laundry services for state hospitals and clinics, among other things.

“Malefane is seen as a Moleleki man. He is regarded as an AD (Alliance for Democracy) functionary. The suspicion  is that he was deliberately delaying tenders  in anticipation that the current government will soon collapse so he can then do things his way,” said a ministry official on condition of anonymity.

“His (Malefane’s) alleged affiliations to the AD could cost him dearly.  He is alleged to have transported T-shirts of the AD to his home District of Qacha’s Nek, a known stronghold of the DC, and is perceived to have the potential to use the tender process to aid government opponents…..”

The Health Ministry is among the top five ministries with the highest budgets. It administers multi-million dollar tenders sponsored by the government and donors.

The ministry is currently working on awarding numerous laundry and catering tenders for government-owned hospitals across the country.  Some of these highly contested tenders have in the past ended up in the courts.

Mr Malefane confirmed last night that he had received his suspension letter but would not immediately divulge details saying he would give his side of the story later.

He said he was seeking legal advice on the suspension while awaiting to be called for a disciplinary hearing.

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