The merry-go-round that is the affairs of water utility company Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) continue unabated, with the latest being the resignation of the Deputy Chairman of the Board, Pusetso Matekane in a quest to fill up a staffer’s vacancy in the company, Newsday has learnt.
This paper was reliably informed by sources within the company that Matekane and Mrs ‘Malengolo Seotsanyana Sello resigned from the company’s Board of Directors where Matekane swiftly applied for a Director Finance (DF) position that became vacant last month.
According to the company’s policies, any board member wishing to apply for any vacant position in the company has to be placed on a year-long cooling-off period, hence suspicions that the move could be wrought with ill-intends.
This, following a protracted turf tiff between the company and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Futho Hoohlo.
Sources privy to the matter told this publication that the post which Matekane seeks to fill was advertised ahead of one which became vacant before it.
“The Director Corporate Services (DCS) became vacant in February 2021 and still hasn’t been filled (not even advertised), but DF position has leap-frogged the DCS position,” the source said.
“It is highly irregular and raises eyebrows and the question of integrity, best practices and good corporate governance. Ideally, the recruitment process (shortlisting, interviews, appointments etc.) is handled by the Board who were his colleagues a few days ago. This also raises the issue of conflict of interest,” the source continues.
Reports show that Matekane inked a blank purchase requisition without figures and quotations mandated to “engage specialised investigation skills for Wasco” dated 12/02/2021 to probe Hoohlo for the alleged misconduct in the company while a series of suspension letters were lined to his desk.
The appointment of the South African based Quantum Advisory Services was suspect, where Hoohlo had intimated that it had failed to follow and adhere to the procurement guidelines and regulations enunciated and provided in the WASCO procurement policies and regulations; as per the regulations 7 and 52.
“In terms of regulation 52, all procurement processes at WASCO must follow the stipulated procurement processes outlined in regulation 52 of the WASCO Procurement Policy and Regulations. There shall be a requisition function in the procurement process, the purpose of which shall be to identify the services needed by the company and to estimate the costs of such services through the requisition process.
“The proceeding step in the regulation process is the confirmation by the budget functionary in the procurement process to determine whether the company has funds to procure the services requested in the requisition form. It follows, therefore, that in terms of the regulations the requisition form shall outline and indicate the estimated value of the services requested and procured in order to determine whether there is a budget in the company to cater for the requested services.”
The source continued that, “Signing a blank requisition is highly irregular and wrick of fraud and corruption. Hoohlo reported the matter to the LMPS and the matter is under criminal investigation (Maseru Central RCI 74/03/2021). Soon after the reporting, CE was suspended from duty, police officers, attached to Wasco under the LMPS/ Wasco MOU, who were investigating the matter, were summarily expelled from WASCO and the MOU immediately cancelled at Wasco’s request and initiative.
“There is a suspicion that Mr Matekane is on a mission to clean or cover-up serious violations he did individually as a member of Board, and collectively as the Board,” the source said.
This publication tried to get hold of Matekane but his phone was unavailable, attempts were further made with a questionnaire sent to his WhatsApp messenger but he only ignored and blue ticked this reporter.
Meanwhile, in an answering letter addressed to the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chabeli Ramolise on April 06, 2021, the latter is seen authorising the requisition without figures mandated to probe the CEO.
“The Director gave the requisition to the Chief Executive who observed that the Requisition (attached) was signed by the CIA, as the Requesting Officer, and Authorised by Chairman of FRAC, Mr. Pusetso Matekane, as the Authorising Officer. The requisition had no figures and or quotations, and that is when the Chief Executive suspected that something was wrong and reported the matter to the Police Attaché’s to WASCO. The Police called the Director Finance to their office on Friday the 12th March 2021 and having attended an interview with the same on the 16th March 2021, he was asked to write a report and provide all documents relating the procurement of the Private Investigator.
“On the 11th February 2021 I got a call from the Chairman of Finance Risk and Audit Committee (FRAC) of the Board Mr Pusetso Matekane, asking me for guidance as regards procurement of a consultant who will help the Board investigates the Chief Executive. On the same day, I sent him an email guiding on the procurement process of what is termed Confidential Procurement which appears under sections 27.1.11 of WASCO’s Procurement Policy of 2017. The Policy gives the Board the power to confidentially procure the services of a consultant to investigate the Chief Executive. I also advised Mr Matekane that as the Board, just like it had happened with the former Chief Executive, the Board can appoint the investigator secretly and only inform WASCO once the procurement has been done.
“He expressed his concern that it seemed our legal office was not convinced that the process followed then, was water tight. I assured him that the Procurement Policy indeed gives the Board that authority. On Monday 12th February the Chief Internal Auditor (CIA) Mrs Pulane Kubu, came to my office to inform me that she has been requested to carry out the procurement of the Investigator and she needs my guidance. I told her what I had already told Mr Matekane that; since the investigation involves the Chief Executive, the Board has the authority to carry out such procurement as stipulated by section 27.1.11 of WASCO’s Procurement Policy.
“She indicated to me that she is aware but she has been instructed to carry out that process, to which I requested her to seek a letter from the Board in that regard. Later that day she came back telling me the letter would be written but she needs to expedite the process to which she asked if it was proper for her to fill a requisition and I said requisition will be required. She was not sure whether to request one of her officers to sign as a requesting Officer, to which we agreed that the matter will no longer be confidential if she involves her officers.
“I told her that if she becomes the requesting officer, she needs to have the Chief Executive to sign or any director except the Chief Executive. She requested me to sign to which I told her that since I will be approving the order, I can’t sign the requisition, it will constitute conflict. She then told me that her last resort would be to ask the Board to sign the requisition and indeed she got the signature from Mr Matekane. She then took the requisition to the acting Supply Chain Manager as the officer is obliged by regulation to keep secrecy too.
“I told her that we still need a written letter that confirms that she has been appointed to carry out that procurement contrary to what I had already told her and Mr Matekane which is the stipulation of the policy. On the 23rd February I received the letter informing me of the appointment of CIA to carry out the procurement. I then instructed Mr Mohobela to help the CIA do the procurement. To my surprise, on the 10th March 2021, the Chief Executive Mr Futho Hoohlo forwarded me a letter from the Board Chair which was introducing one Mr Dominic Metlae as the private investigator on issues relating to the Chief Executive of WASCO.