MASERU — A senior procurement officer in Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s office has been suspended for three months without pay after she was found guilty of corruption.
‘Manthabeleng Shai, the acting head of procurement in the Cabinet office, was hauled before a disciplinary panel in July to face 19 corruption-related charges.
The panel delivered its judgment last Thursday.
She received the suspension letter from the Cabinet’s Principal Secretary for Economic Affairs, Moliehi Matabane, on Friday.
In that letter, dated August 25, Matabane tells Shai that after her suspension she will be deployed to another position that does not deal with procurement.
“After careful consideration of your address in mitigation, it was decided that you be suspended from the service for a period of three (3) months without pay and consequently upon return be removed from procurement related activities (sic),” Matabane’s letter said.
Shai becomes the third senior official in Mosisili’s office to be found guilty of corruption.
The Sunday Express revealed last weekend that ‘Marapelang Raphuthing, the finance and administration director in the same office, with whom Shai worked closely, was fired last week after a disciplinary panel found her guilty of corruption and abusing government property.
In May Kubutu Makhakhe, the Principal Secretary for Administration in Mosisili’s office, was also found guilty of corruption related charges and the disciplinary panel recommended that he be redeployed to another department that does not deal with procurement.
Thato Masiloane, the deputy principal secretary in the Cabinet Office, who was charged together with Makhakhe, Shai and Raphuthing was acquitted after the disciplinary panel said there was not enough incriminating evidence against her.
Like the other three, Shai’s charges emanated from findings by Nexus Forensic Services, a South African investigations company hired by the government to root out corruption in Mosisili’s office.
The investigation revealed massive tender rigging and bribery.
It accused the senior officials of parcelling out tenders to companies connected to their relatives and friends.
The investigation revealed that the bulk of the sleaze was related to tenders below M100 000 which procurement officials are allowed to give out without approval from the tender board.
Shai’s charges were that she received bribes from four companies that allegedly got tenders to supply goods and services to Mosisili’s office.
She was accused of receiving gifts from private companies without permission from her supervisor as stipulated by government regulations.
Because of her actions, the charge sheet said, Shai had brought the civil service into disrepute and failed to lead by example.
She also failed to “serve the people of Lesotho with respect and promote their welfare and lawful interests”, the charge sheet said. The charges centred on gifts she received from Success Enterprise, MD Enterprises, FML Suppliers and Les Office Equipment.
From Success Enterprises, Shai allegedly received M2 000. The charge sheet said she received the money for “services” she “rendered” but does not specify the service for which Success Enterprise was paying her.
She did not seek approval from her supervisor before receiving the payment.
Success Enterprise is apparently connected to Raphuthing’s son.
It is the same company at the centre of the corruption charges for which Raphuthing was fired.
The disciplinary panel found that on July 13, 2009 Raphuthing unlawfully approved two transactions in which Success Enterprise was the main beneficiary.
The company was paid M5 000 and M92 846.10 for services or goods it supplied to Mosisili’s office.
Shai also allegedly received M8 000 from MD Enterprises, another Maseru-based company suspected to have benefited from the tenders from her office.
The charge said the payment was a “reward” beyond her “emoluments for the performance of service of the government”.
She is also alleged to have illegally received groceries from FML Enterprise, another beneficiary of tenders from the Cabinet.
Shai is also alleged to have received spectacles and cooking gas from Les Office Equipment.
Success Enterprises, MD Enterprises, FML Suppliers and Les Office Equipment are alleged to be briefcase companies that have no known offices.
They are also not listed in the latest edition of the telephone directory.
The use of such companies for state tenders is said to be rampant in the government.