The brawl between the Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and the Directorate on Economic Offences (DCEO) Director General Mahlomola Manyokole is still far from over.
All was well until Minister of Law and Justice Nqosa Mahao on January 7, 2021 authored a show-cause letter directed at the Directorate boss, quizzing about why he can’t advice the Prime Minister to set-up a tribunal to prove his incapacity to run the Directorate. In response Manyokole hurried to block the endeavour in court.
Mahao’s motives to stretch a tribunal against the latter were pinned on the viewpoint that the Directorate under the watchful eye of Manyokole was losing many cases, thus reflecting an unfit gesture for the anti-corruption body Director General to run the unit.
On the other end, Manyokole took a swift move to block the suspension and tribunal exertion in court by launching a collateral challenge, citing that DCEO was probing a money laundering case which involves Moiloa Moiloa (Chairman of the Tribunal), for acts supposedly done during his tenure as a partner in a firm of attorneys, Webber Newdigate, where he submitted that the case involves Government monies illicitly deposited into the bank accounts of Webbwe Newdigate as legal fees for his personal benefit by former Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, one Mosito Khethisa.
The other case involves the former Chief Executive Officer of Standard Lesotho Bank concerning a house bought by its former Chief Executive with the approval of the Board in which Moiloa was then chairman.
Alas, the results unfolded unfavourably after the verdict of Justice Moroke Mokhesi umpired that the tribunal can be set against him but the suspension could be lifted as it was declared void ab initio last week.
Earlier this week Majoro slapped Manyokole with another suspension following the undesirable verdict issued last week.
This week Newsday Newspaper (ND) journalist Mohloai Mpesi sat down with Mahlomola Manyokole (MM) to discuss the challenges he has had to conquer since his installation into office on July, 8. 2019. Below are excerpts from the conversation.
ND: What was the nature of your appointment was it political or did you apply for the post?
MM: I was appointed by former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thomas Thabane and the law allows that, just like the President of Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice, thus it is correct I am a political appointee.
ND: How was the atmosphere of welcome to office when you first came in, especially by your politician superiors?
MM: I was not a preferred candidate because I was labelled Mahao’s faction (Likatana). But God spoke to the heart of the Prime Minister. Therefore I did not get a warm reception because people looked at me as a suspect.
ND: How has the relationship been between yourself and your superiors, especially since you have served under different Prime Ministers and Ministers?
MM: I had a cordial relationship with the former Prime Minister and the current Prime Minister, which is why I asked the Government Secretary and wrote a message to current Prime Minister asking him to explain whether he was part of Professor Nqosa Mahao’s show cause letter but Majoro ignored the message then I knew he was a ‘coup Conspirator’. Prime Minster was no longer interested to see me and I knew I touched the wrong buttons.
ND: Which Ministers did you work with and how was the relationship?
MM: I worked with Minister Mokhele Moletsane and Minister Semano Sekatle. They respected my office and they never interfered until I met Professor Mahao who threw all his weight at DCEO for his unhealthy desire to use my office to fight his political foes.
ND: What have been the challenges and the highlights of working at DCEO?
MM: I have been a Director General for 19 months and I have had more than 10 cases this financial year and DCEO has never hit that target before with one conviction and another on the verge of completion. But DCEO could only remand two to three cases a year and upon my arrival I did three cases within eight months.
Biggest challenge is lack of finances, equipment and right skills to tackle the daunting challenges of money laundering. We managed to launch the website for the first time and take declarations of cabinet ministers for the first time in the country with the help of the current Prime Minister. When professor Mahao came I was happy because I have always looked up to him as a role model.
People would remember he was my lecturer when I was doing constitutional law in my first year in the National University of Lesotho; he liked me so much that he appointed me a class representative. He made the law so simple and I wanted to be like him, he would teach me that police and army cannot protect the constitution but the Attorney General.
However, today he acts different and betraying all that he taught about political whims and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. So I will not betray his lectures and act defiant.
ND: Where were you working before coming to DCEO?
MM: I was working as a tax collector at LRA and I am proud of my achievements there with my team. We did well to collect the revenues which helped and changed this country.
ND: Given the atmosphere (split) in the Directorate right now, what can you say about the working relationship in the anti-corruption body?
MM: I will leave the wrath for God, I am not perfect like Jesus Christ therefore I have forgiven those who were used against me and build a better DCEO for Basotho which is a beacon of hope. God will recompense me; I want to conquer evil with good not to be conquered by evil.
ND: Should the suspension be lifted, or the case end in your favour, would you feel comfortable to go back to work at the DCEO?
MM: I am happy to go back to my work and I am passionate about my work and I want to make a meaningful contribution to my country and so far we finished more than 10 cases that are ready for prosecution unlike before when we made only two per annum.