Dr Retselisitsoe Nko has been fired from the post of Chief Accounting Offer (CEO) of Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC).
Nko’s termination letter arrived in the midst of his employer’s attempt to buy him out following a second Court Order dated February 15, 2023, barring the corporation from continuing with any disciplinary inquiry against him.
Signed by the Principal Secretary responsible for Tourism and also Chairman of the LTDC board, Moshe Mosaase, the termination letter which reveals a disciplinary hearing was held on February 21 in the absence of Nko notes that the latter was “…found guilty of bringing the Corporate’s name into disrepute and threatening behavior.”
“The Corporation wishes to inform you that it has considered the recommendation made by the chairperson and accepts it as it is. Therefore, this serves to inform you that you are summarily dismissed from work with immediate effect…”
According to the letter, Nko would not appeal his hearing “…due to the involvement of the board in the disciplinary process.”
Last week, on February 15, Justice Teboho Thoso barred the LTDC board and the corporation from proceeding with the disciplinary inquiry against Nko.
On February 6, Justice Polo Banyane cancelled Nko’s suspension and ordered both the board and the corporation to deliver full records of the disciplinary proceedings as well as the resolution of the board.
The Buy Out Attempt
According to Sources close to the matter, soon after the court stopped all activities towards Nko’s disciplinary, the legal representative of both LTDC and its board approached advocate Christopher Lephuthing with a settlement offer to oust Nko.
The source told this paper that the LTDC wanted to pay Nko only three months for his departure but the latter through his legal advice refused, demanding a payout of the remaining 37 months of his contract.
According to the source, Nko and his legal team wanted that the LTDC further pay all terminal benefits before he can walk away, but the ‘non-formal’ communication hit a deadlock when the LTDC could only offer M500 000 which according to the source was smaller than the amount in demand.
When contacted by this paper, Advocate Lephuthing confirmed he received a call from Lindiwe Sephomolo from the Association of Lesotho Employers and Business who was representing both the LTDC and its board saying her clients has a settlement deal for Nko
Lephuthing told this paper that they had not yet discussed the nitty-gritty of the matter with Nko.
“Yes, I was contacted by Lindiwe Sephumulo, where she proposed a settlement but they have not written any formal communication to us. I am still expecting their formal communication and only then will I be able to share details. I have briefed my client of the settlement attempts, but we are still waiting,” Lephuthing said.
He continued that he had not found time to discuss the matter with his client, Nko, because he is occupied with the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) matter at the High Court.
“Right now I am busy working on NMDS and students’ case so I have not found time to go to Nko and discuss this matter, I am yet to meet with him,” he said.
“But I have notified him that they want a settlement, so he wrote a long text on WhatsApp with his demands to exit, which unfortunately is confidential between me and my client,” Lephuthing said.
PS Mosaase when speaking with this paper noted that they were considering a settlement with Nko.
He continued explaining that the board met to rule towards the termination of Nko’s employment with the LTDC
“Yes, we had a Board meeting on Monday this week to discuss his termination at the corporation. I will not be able to say more because we are going to release a full statement to brief the media regarding this matter,” the PS said.
When quizzed on their settlement offer of M500 000 for Nko’s ouster, Mosaase refused to comment noting the issue was a private matter.
“It is not true that we had an offer of M500 000, but we are looking to settle with him, however, I cannot disclose the figures here because it is confidential and they involve the CEO of the corporation. Everything else will be detailed in the media statement that we are going to release,” Mosaase said.
Where it all began
Nko was suspended after being embroiled in a shooting fracas at Hillview in Maseru on December 27, 2022. He was subsequently suspended from his position of CEO at the corporation.
The LTDC Board released a statement on December 29 informing the public of the suspension of Nko and the chairperson of the board at the time was Nonululeko Zally.
The statement of the board read: “The LTDC wishes to acknowledge that it is aware of the spate of news that doing rounds on several media platforms concerning the CEO Dr Edward Retselisitsoe Nko who was allegedly involved in a fighting and shooting incident…”
The same statement noted that while investigations were underway by the relevant authorities, the Board had decided to suspend Nko from duty.
Nko took to the courts to challenge his suspension charging that it was unlawful, and both Judges Thoso and Banyane barred the LTDC and its Board from disciplinary actions against Nko.
The latter was billed to return to the office on February 9 following the interim Court Order that reinstated him, however, according to Advocate Lephuthing, he is still not healthy enough to go back to the office.
“He (Nko) was supposed to be back to work on February 9, 2023, but since he is still sick, he could not,” Lephuthing said.