- Investigation by the Public Accounts Committee found that the Labour Commissioner ‘Mamohale Matsoso was implicated in corrupt practices;
- PAC recommended for investigations leading to action by DCEO against Matsoso within 30 days;
- The Committee also said all permits issued fraudulently must be revoked within 30 days;
- The Committee recommended that Matsoso be relieved from the position of Commissioner of Labour with immediate effect and the Minister of Justice to report back to Parliament within 45 days.
An investigation by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the operations of the Ministry of Labour and Employment has revealed endemic corruption, violation of government laws and poor corporate governance among other shenanigans.
In a damning report published last Friday, PAC said it learned about “fraudulent practices whereby non-deserving persons were given work permits and officers solicited bribes from both foreigners and locals for them to be given work permits”.
Part of the report reads: “Ms. Nthoateng Russel and her accomplice, Mr. Mejaro facilitated the issuance of a fraudulent work permit to a South African company that was erecting billboards for two weeks in Lesotho.
“They acted upon a request from one officer from the Ministry of Energy, Mr. Liketso Ntho. Though Nthoateng denied pocketing M32,000.00 as bribe from this company, evidence showed that there was frequent communication between Ntho and Nthoateng and money exchanged hands during that time.”
The report also indicates that Nthoateng also “admitted having forged the signature of Mr. Koalepe in the process of facilitating the issuance of the permit”.
The case, according to the PAC, was investigated by the DCEO, but to date, it has reportedly not been finalized.
“Mr. Mejaro and Ms. Russel were also involved in another scandal whereby he accepted M2,000.00 as bribe from drama artists of which he gave Ms. Russel M1,200.00 to fast-track a reported case that was before the Ministry of Labour and Employment,” the PAC report further reads.
The investigation by the PAC also found that the Labour Commissioner ‘Mamohale Matsoso was also implicated in corrupt practices, and she was at some point mentioned in the social media and newspapers.
“The Commissioner of Labour, ‘Mamohale Matsoso denied involvement in an alleged syndicate within the Ministry of Labour that is reportedly granting work permits to undeserving foreigners. She said she was aware that she had been named as one of the members of the alleged syndicate but the allegations were unfounded.
“A foreigner by the name of Madowe (Nigerian) had overstayed in Lesotho and the Ministry of Mining had warned that his work permit should not be renewed, but he openly stated that he would pay a bribe and his permit would be renewed. He has stayed in Lesotho (Letšeng Mine) for over fifteen years without transferring skills to any local employee or someone understudying him.
“It was alleged that the. Labour Commissioner assisted him through her secretary, though the Labour Commissioner denied it. It was also alleged that the Minister of Mining, Hon. Keketso Sella, wrote a letter facilitating exemption of foreign employee (Mr. Madowe) to work for more than five years in Lesotho as against the requirement of section 166 (3) of the Labour Code 1992 as amended in 2000.”
PAC said it was concerned that a person who had failed to transfer skills for 15 years was being exempted for a further two years, “citing transfer of skills after such a long time of staying in Lesotho without transferring skills”.
“The question is what kind of skill takes 20 years to transfer?”
Against this backdrop, the PAC recommended for investigations leading to action by DCEO against Labour Commissioner Matsoso within 30 days for illegally issuing Madowe permit to work in Lesotho for a period exceeding the one stipulated by the law.
The Committee said this was misuse of power, “therefore, Section 13 of the amendment of Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offence Act of 1999 should be applied.”
It also recommended that the Ministry of Labour should compile the experts, specialist and expatriates’ registration statistics and verify them with Ministry of Labour, with authentic copies of qualifications.
It said all permits issued fraudulently must be revoked within 30 days. The Minister of Labour and Employment must report back to Parliament within 45 days.
“The Committee has noted with concern the negligence of duty by the Commissioner of Labour. Therefore, the Committee recommends that Mrs. Matsoso be relieved from the position of the Commissioner of Labour with immediate effect and the Minister of Justice to report back to Parliament within 45 days,” reads the report.