MASERU — Opposition leaders have condemned the decision to engage Masupha Sole, the convicted former boss of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA).
Sole was last week appointed chief technical advisor to the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC), which supervises the LHDA.
The appointment came four months after he was released from prison where he had spent nearly nine years after being convicted on 11 counts of bribery and two of fraud.
Sole was supposed to have spent 15 years behind bars but sources say he was pardoned, together with other prisoners, for good behaviour.
Opposition leaders that spoke to the Lesotho Times say they are appalled by Sole’s appointment to run the same projects through which he received bribes.
They say his appointment is tantamount to rewarding crooks and it sends the wrong message to the world about Lesotho’s commitment to fighting corruption.
All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane said he was dismayed at the decision to appoint Sole.
He said what particularly shocked him was the “double standards displayed” by Natural Resource Minister Monyane Moleleki.
He said when Sole was convicted Moleleki “clearly said corrupt officials must suffer the full wrath of the law”.
“Sole was always the example that Moleleki used,” Thabane said.
Moleleki, Thabane said, “had clearly stated that people like Sole should lose the assets they would have acquired fraudulently”.
Thabane said Moleleki should explain why Sole was rewarded with such a critical position after he was convicted of corruption and fraud.
Sello Maphalla, the deputy leader of the Lesotho Workers’ Party, described Sole’s appointment as “an insult and a mockery to everyone who is up in arms against corruption”.
He said the appointment was particularly disturbing in that it comes at a time when the government has hired an international consultant to help redefine the country’s anticorruption strategies and capacitate the Directorate of Corruption and
Economic Offences (DCEO).
Maphalla said although he appreciates that prison might have rehabilitated Sole he believes it’s not a good idea “to place him back in the same institute with the same people”.
Senkatana Party leader, Lehlohonolo Tšehlana, said when he first heard that Sole had been appointed he thought “it was a joke because it was unbelievable that someone could make such a decision”.
“I’m just wondering what Sole could have done right to deserve this appointment. Was he falsely convicted? Is he being returned a favour? I just don’t know how our laws operate,” Tšehlana said.
“There is simply no rule of law in this country. There is anarchy in this country. Criminals are given royal treatment while others suffer for their deeds. People are misusing public funds and nothing is being said or done.”
“I intend to talk to the prime minister to establish if this is the picture that we want to portray to the rest of the world.”