COMMUNICATIONS, Science and Technology Minister Joang Molapo has dismissed as “fabricated lies” allegations he lobbied for the inclusion of his wife in a Basotho National Party (BNP) shortlist for a principal secretary (PS) post in the ministry.
Chief Molapo told the Lesotho Times this week his wife, Kutloano Molapo, had merely applied for consideration for the post in her own right as a BNP member without his input.
This was in response to swirling speculation that the minister had engineered the inclusion of Ms Molapo – who is a lawyer specialising in insurance – in the shortlist.
The BNP is part of a four-party governing alliance led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. The coalition government – which also includes the All Basotho Convention, Alliance of Democrats and Reformed Congress of Lesotho – was established after the 3 June 2017 parliamentary elections resulted in a hung parliament.
The four parties ousted a seven-party coalition government which was led by former premier Pakalitha Mosisili.
As part of an ongoing drive to dislodge vestiges of the previous regime, the government last week sent PSs appointed by Dr Mosisili on a 40-day leave pending the termination of their contracts.
Ten of the PSs have since challenged the decision, with the matter currently before the courts of law.
The dismissal of the PSs set in motion a search for their replacements in the coalition government, since each party can choose a PS for ministries under its purview.
Last week, the BNP issued a circular asking its members wanting to be considered for the post to submit their CVs.
Ms Molapo’s submission sparked an outcry from some BNP members who accused the minister, who is also the party’s deputy leader, of nepotism.
The aggrieved BNP members also accused Chief Molapo of double standards, saying he criticised Dr Mosisili for appointing his relatives to key positions “but was trying to do the same thing”.
Dr Mosisili’s son, Rethabile, was booted out of the influential and plum post of Lesotho Highlands Water Commission chief delegate last month, while the former premier’s daughter-in-law Lisebo ‘Mapumulo Mosisili, is among the fired PSs challenging their dismissal in court.
“Our deputy leader wanted his wife to be engaged as his principal secretary and we strongly feel that this is nepotism and no different from what the past government did,” a source, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, told this paper.
Another source said although Chief Molapo was not part of the panel assigned to assess the candidates’ CVs, he had tried to influence its decisions.
“There is nothing wrong with his wife submitting a CV for consideration, but it is a different story when she applies for a position where her husband is working as a minister. The situation is made worse considering her husband tried to sneak her in.”
However, Chief Molapo rubbished the claims, saying he did not meddle in the shortlisting process.
“I have a responsibility of maintaining confidentiality on issues that have to do with my party,” he said.
“But I have documentary evidence showing that all these allegations are nonsense and fabricated lies.”
Chief Joang also said it was “bizarre” that his accusers were not producing any evidence of his alleged impropriety, adding that his wife was within her rights to apply for consideration like any party member.
“I must tell you from the onset that my wife was not handpicked for this job. She submitted her CV after seeing a memo on a notice board at the BNP office.”
He also indicated that Ms Molapo was a full-fledged BNP member who had played various roles in assisting the party.
“You will remember that during the days of the previous regime, we went to a Southern African Development Community meeting to protest against the atrocities committed by that government and my wife paid for that trip.
“It seems she is only good for the party when she takes out her money and finances party engagements? Is she only good when she is called in her professional capacity to help on certain issues like the legal challenges of Ntate Machesetsa (Mofomobe)?
“Is she only good when she is asked to help on women’s issues? Is it a crime that she is my wife?”
Chief Molapo said the allegations were being made by his political rivals within the BNP, adding that they should first prove the wrongs they said he had committed.
Chief Molapo would not be drawn to name his rivals in the BNP, but said there were some “ambitious individuals” bent on undermining him at all costs.
“My rivals know that slandering my name will negatively affect my support within the party and undermine my standing in cabinet. Their ultimate goal is for me to be pushed out and open opportunities for them,” he said.