Kaya breathes fire

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…axed health minister says gvt has failed to tackle corruption

Pascalinah Kabi

RULING All Basotho Convention legislator and former Health Minister Nyapane Kaya has come out guns blazing, attacking the government for reneging on its promises to uproot corruption.

Mr Kaya this week told the Lesotho Times that he was “frustrated that the government which was elected into power for its promises to uproot corruption is no longer practicing what it preached”.

He said that it would not be easy to eliminate corruption because of what he described as the many hypocrites in the government.  Mr Kaya said he was not afraid of any consequences or disciplinary action from his party. He vowed he would continue speaking out against the failures of his party and the government. He rejected any suggestions that he was sulking after he was fired from his post in a cabinet reshuffle in February 2018. He said his firing from his ministerial post had in fact freed him to serve his country more.  He was speaking because he genuinely believed that his party and its coalition partners had reneged on their promises to rid Lesotho of corruption, he said.

Mr Kaya’s comments came in the wake of calls by the ABC’s coalition partner, the Alliance of Democrats, for the ABC to discipline him for “attacking the AD”. This after the ex-minister had accused the AD of frustrating the work of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by barring it from conducting hearings aimed at holding public officers accountable as part of efforts to fight corruption.

The AD made the calls at a Tuesday press conference, addressed by its national executive members who included deputy leader Ntoi Rapapa, secretary general Mahali Phamotse, spokesperson Thuso Litjobo and deputy spokesperson Manama Letsie.

Mr Kaya had earlier made a statement on a local radio station in which he accused the AD of blocking PAC proceedings to protect some of its members from being summoned to hearings over graft allegations.

Well-placed sources this week told the Lesotho Times that Mr Kaya made the same allegations a fortnight ago at a caucus meeting of the four governing parties, namely the ABC, AD, Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, AD spokesperson Thuso Litjobo said Mr Kaya was one of the people who had publicly attacked the AD on radio, accusing it of frustrating the important work of the PAC.

Messrs Litjobo and Kaya are PAC members alongside the chairperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, Sam Rapapa, ‘Matsepo Ramakoae, Likopo Mahase, Thabo Sofonea (all ABC), Mothetjoa Metsing (Lesotho Congress for Democracy), Mathibeli Mokhothu and Palo Leteetee (Democratic Congress).

“We (Litjobo and Kaya) are both PAC members and the PAC agreed that we should not let our party affiliations cloud our proceedings but when the PAC is dragged into politics, I will remove my suit, put on my party regalia and defend my party against those attacking it,” Mr Litjobo said.

“Some of the members of parliament attacking the AD are PAC members and we are going to stop them doing that, the gloves are now off. These MPs are frustrated in their own political parties and are now venting out on the AD. Kaya is one of those people and he must stop attacking the AD. Kaya is not speaking on behalf of ABC,” Mr Litjobo charged.

Mr Litjobo further accused Mr Kaya of leaking confidential discussions of the government legislators’ caucus meeting comprised of legislators from all parties in the governing coalition. He said no “self-respecting MP” should ever leak information from such meetings.

He said Mr Kaya’s attacks on Mr Moleleki were out of order, adding that, “he (Mr Kaya) needs to be stopped now”.

According to the sources, Mr Kaya allegedly attacked Mr Moleleki during the caucus meeting, accusing the AD leader of attempting to divide the PAC along party lines and seeking to protect his allies from scrutiny by the parliamentary body. This was after Mr Moleleki had raised concerns about the PAC proceedings.

“In that (caucus) meeting Ntate Moleleki told the government legislators that they must tread carefully on the issue of the PAC as (the PAC chairperson) Ntate (Selibe) Mochoboroane was using it to embarrass people and act as though he was above the law,” a source said.

“Ntate Moleleki appeared deeply disturbed by the ongoing PAC investigations into the misappropriation of public funds, saying it was not good for the PAC chairperson to continue to embarrass civil servants during the proceedings.”

Another source said that Mr Moleleki’s remarks irked ABC legislators, Motlohi Maliehe and Mr Kaya himself. The two insisted that there was nothing wrong with the PAC taking public servants to task for abusing public funds.

“Ntate Kaya spoke out and told Ntate Moleleki that he (Moleleki)   was only trying to protect his allies from being embarrassed. (He)  Ntate Kaya said that Ntate Moleleki was only seeking to protect his allies and he was aware of a picture of Ntate Moleleki and Advocate Hlahlobo Moruri that the latter had posted to his Facebook page,” the source said.

Adv Moruri is the former Assistant Master of the High Court. He posted to his Facebook page, pictures of himself and Mr Moleleki. Adv Moruri recently joined hands with the Master of the High Court ‘Makatleho Matia and Moroesi Tau-Thabane to file a court application seeking to bar the PAC from summoning them to appear before it.

The trio also want the High Court to interdict the PAC from investigating or dealing with matters related to the Administration of Estates Proclamation No.19 of 1935.

The trio have already appeared before the PAC on 16 and 17 April 2018 to respond to allegations that the office of the Master of the High Court misappropriated funds from the estate of the late Molise Mapetla.

Commenting on the alleged attacks by Mr Kaya on the AD and its leader, Mr Litjobo, on Tuesday said, “It is in his (Mr Kaya’s) favour that he be stopped from doing this”.

AD deputy spokesperson, Manama Letsie, also said “the ABC should immediately discipline Kaya”.

The AD deputy leader, Ntoi Rapapa, said Dr Thabane’s decision to axe Mr Kaya from the cabinet was an indication that there was “something wrong” with the ex-minister.

“Someone (Mr Kaya) is given a responsibility as a minister and gets fired within 12 months of his appointment. That is an indication that there is something wrong with him. AD supports the PAC and those found wanting by the PAC should be brought before the courts of law. AD will continue to support this government until 2022,” Prof Rapapa said.

ABC spokesperson, Tefo Mapesela, said yesterday the party would call Mr Kaya to order “by telling him to stop doing what they (the AD) are saying he is doing”.

On his part, Mr Kaya said he was not scared of any disciplinary measures that the ABC might take against him. He said he stood ready to see if the ABC would renege on its promises to uproot corruption and instead discipline him for his efforts to practice what his party preaches.

“I am not frustrated at all within the ABC. The only frustration I have is the realisation that the government which was elected into power for its promises to uproot corruption is no longer practicing what it preached.

“We are no longer singing the same song when it comes to issues of corruption and that is frustrating me. I now see it is not easy to uproot corruption because not everyone in government is swimming in the same boat, some of us are hypocrites.

“Besides this frustration, I don’t know of any other frustrations. Being fired from a ministerial position didn’t frustrate me; it made me freer to serve this country.”

Mr Kaya also wondered whether some of his party colleagues had been silent on the subject of corruption out of the need to protect the governing alliance.

“I am just wondering if my colleagues are silent on the issues of corruption simply because they want to keep the alliance and if that is the case, I strongly oppose it because I will not condone corruption simply to keep and protect alliances,” Mr Kaya said

Mr Kaya, an ABC legislator for the Mechachane constituency, served as Minister of Health at the inception of the Thomas Thabane-led four party coalition government in June 2017 until he was axed in a cabinet reshuffle in February 2018.

He is the second senior ABC member to suggest the ABC had deviated from its electoral promises after the party’s chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe, launched a blistering attack on First Lady Maesaiah Thabane accusing her of exerting undue interference in party and government affairs.

Mr Maliehe accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and “abetting corruption” by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.

Incidentally, Mr Kaya was named by Mr Maliehe as the minister who was removed from his post at the First Lady’s instigation after he (Mr Kaya) refused to unlawfully award the ministry’s laundry and catering tenders to Ms Thabane’s preferred candidates.

The ABC has since instituted disciplinary measures against Mr Maliehe who has indicated that he has nothing to fear and insisted that he stands by all his comments.

Similarly, Mr Kaya told this publication that he was “not scared at all” and he would continue to speak out and fight corruption regardless of the status of the person committing or condoning it.

“I am not scared at all. I am waiting to see what will happen. I am not going anywhere. Allegations that I am crossing over to Democratic Congress (DC) are just a smear campaign orchestrated by those who think that people like me should not speak up against corruption,” he said.

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