Billy Ntaote and Nthatuoa Koeshe
An ongoing Transformation Resource Centre (TRC)’s inquiry into alleged corruption and abuse of power by the rights group Executive Director Tsikoane Peshoane has allegedly lost its credibility.
The inquiry instituted by the TRC Board, is in connection with corruption allegations leveled against Peshoane by his employees in a petition that demanded his immediate expulsion as the rights groups’ Executive Director about a fortnight ago.
In the middle of the inquiry undertaken by Equity Forensics and the Lesotho Association of Employers, the disgruntled TRC employees registered their dissatisfaction against what they labeled “unbecoming conduct of the board chairman” Mamolefe Petlane.
The petitioners accused Petlane of having held a parallel investigation or kangaroo court of her own for Peshoane to persecute employees and argue this “conduct drives them to doubt the objectivity of the board in handling their grievances”.
Petlane disregarded questions about progress of the inquiry sent by collaboration between NewsDay and MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism.
In a letter penned by the petitioners addressed to the board following a meeting convened by the board on Monday February 20, 2022 where the employees were briefed on progress of the Peshoane corruption inquiry, they argue that Petlane made “unbecoming comments…”.
Chairman is said to have accused the employees saying “…you showed that you really don’t care..” a comment the employees described as having been “very disrespectful and undermining our willingness to collaborate with the board in investigating this matter to finality.
“…We wish to make it known, unequivocally, that this comment by the Chairman leads us to question the credibility of the Chairman,” reads part of the employees’ complaints about Petlane’s conduct.
The petitioners further accused Petlane of having pinned down the employees for Peshoane to persecute amid an ongoing inquiry.
“Parallel Investigations – reference is made to the PISA meeting convened by the Chairman on the 22nd of February 2022…Surprisingly, the Director was given a platform to address the PISA personnel, wherein he went on to blame other quarters of management for our failure to be paid December and January salaries as well as suspension of our contracts and subsequent termination…We therefore hold the view that this was tantamount to a parallel investigation and had the effect of undermining the ongoing investigations,” reads of the employees concerns.
Petlane only disclosed purported inquiry’s progress a day after she told journalists who visited her office she cannot meet them because she was tight up in a Zoom meeting.
The board said it had initially envisaged to conclude the investigations which are conducted by independent consultants—Lesotho Association of Employers and Equity Forensics Pty Ltd—within5-7 days but deadline is extended by 7 more days.
The board said it extended the investigations timeframe owing to “the magnitude and the scope of the assignment that increased, this required the board to extend by further 7 days”.
The board said all concerned parties have been cooperative and supportive and are quite forthcoming with needed information which will assist in making ultimate informative recommendations to the board, and will subsequently make pronouncement on a new decision going forward.
In an email responding to the grievances of the employees, board member Francis Idris said “I went through the email and I came up with one conclusion: The staff behind this kind of letter and rhetoric are people whose minds are made up to achieving one result. They want things to be done their way or else it is a failure”.
The board member further said: “we must push on with our work. The investigation will yield results for the better of TRC”.
While another board member, Motṡeoa Senyane said “I totally agree with you Ntate Francis. It is so sad that the staff is trying to push the Board to do their dirty work”.
Attempts to get a comment from Senyane and Idris were unsuccessful until the time of going to print last night.