…as Director is exonerated off all charges
Ntsoaki Motaung and Nthatuoa Koeshe
The Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) staff members said they are shocked at the board’s announcement that investigations on TRC’s Executive Director Tsikoane Phesoane have been concluded.
The staff said this at a press briefing on Wednesday which came shortly after the board released a statement that the probing of Peshoane had been concluded.
In the statement, it was concluded by the board that certain grievances by the staff members were misconstrued, others unfounded (inaccurate) whilst others though legitimate were not the acts of the Executive Director, thus cannot hold him liable.
“TRC employees have learned with absolute shock the Press Statement issued by the office of the Deputy Chairman of the board indicating that investigations into staff grievances had been concluded and that the certain grievances were misconstrued, unfounded (inaccurate), while others declared not his actions,” said Rapelang Mosae, one of TRC staff members.
According to Mosae the staff has on record information that clearly indicates that the investigation is not yet completed.
“We had a zoom meeting with the Board on February 28 where we were told that the investigations are still ongoing but to our surprise, we learn that the board is done with the investigations and our grievances are still not addressed,” Mosae said.
He said the press statement came in the wake of yet another misinforming press statement (22nd of February) wherein the public was informed that TRC staff had resumed normal operations.
“We wish to state herein that these are both misleading, TRC staff are not back at work except for the Finance team which was officially recalled to work on funders reports and a small team which the ED has decided to work with,” he said.
TRC’s employees had petitioned the TRC Board on February 2, 2022 to remove Peshoane from the helm of the right group organization with immediate effect.
The employees’ petition to the board laid a nuanced account of how Peshoane as the Executive Director went against the ideals and principles of accountability, transparency and human rights protection that the organization espoused.
The aggravated staff of TRC called on the board to stop misleading the public about the ongoing disputes.
Up on reading their statement Mosae said the Board of Director’s upon receiving the letter of grievances on February 2 acted hastily to attend to the staff by sending the Chairman of the Board to address the staff.
“On February 3 the Staff was called to be addressed by the TRC Board Executive composed of the Chairman Mamolefe Petlane, The Deputy Chairman- Tšepo Mokuku and the Treasurer Motšeoa Senyane,” he said.
He said in the same meeting, the Board indicated that it would engage independent personnel to carry out investigations into the staff grievances.
“The staff learned of the procurement of services of Investigators, Equity Forensics and Association of Lesotho Employers and Business on February 11 through an email sent by the Board as well as a Whatsapp messages from the Head of Finance, Admin and Human Resource which came as a shock as the staff had been assured that the process would be a transparent and inclusive one,” Mosae read the letter.
He said on several emails sent to the Board between the February 7 and 9, the staff still questioned how the investigators were procured as there was no public advertisement of invitation to tender, nor even the publication of terms of reference.
The staff felt they were already at a disadvantage as the employer would be represented while they would be without any representation.
He said the staff therefore, is of the view that the investigators were procured for the simple mandate of protecting the Director at any cost.
He said TRC Board Chairperson while addressing staff in a meeting wherein a preliminary report was to be shared with staff made multiple unsavoury comments indicating that she had formed a negative view of the staff.
“In response to staff email sent to the Board on February 3 requesting clarity on issues pertaining to the investigation, the Board members Francis Idris and Motšeoa Senyane made comments that the staff are people who wants things done their way or else it is a failure, and that it is so sad that the staff is trying to push the Board to do their dirty work. This too reaffirmed that the board had taken a negative view towards the staff and was therefore in no position to objectively bring this matter to finality.
“The investigators argued to have utilised a sampling technique they failed to disclose and attributed their failure to complete the exercise to time constraints. However, they were bold enough to see it fit to provide findings, nonetheless,” he said.
Meanwhile, the former employee of TRC Advocate Lepeli Moeketsi, indicated that he is making a solidarity statement on behalf of 12 former TRC employees who are, at the same time direct victims of TRC Director’s mismanagement of the organisation.
“We are not surprised as these damning internal governance challenges can be traced back to a period when Peshoane was appointment as TRC Director. The appointment which was conducted in a dubious manner by TRC Board to say the least,” he said.
He said that period saw the TRC Director eliminating from the organisation all employees with higher qualifications than him. He embarked on the so called “restructuring” which resulted in changing of departments and requirements. Surprisingly these requirements were designed in a manner that targeted employees would not reach them, hence strategically and effectively getting rid of them.
Moeketsi said allegations of corruption, misappropriation of donor funds accompanied by lack of transparency, as contained in the TRC Staff grievance letter, results in TRC’s loss of moral ground to fight corruption at national level and loss of credibility and respect from citizens as well as donors’ confidence.
“With regard to violation of labour rights of employees, we can attest that there are currently four (4) labour disputes pending in the courts of law initiated by some of us over violation of labour rights by Mr. Peshoane, more litigations are looming. We noted with concern that TRC Director is taking advantage of poor and slow judicial processes to punish those employees who tender their resignation by denying them their terminal benefits and other contractual entitlements; with some cases dating as far back as 2018 and still pending to date,” he said.
He said “As Former TRC Employees and Victims of TRC Director, we like to categorically state that the allegations contained in the Staff Letter to the TRC Board are within our knowledge as we have been subjected to such painful hardships by TRC Director. We are further in a position to add more instances of gross mismanagement by the Director that have not been adequately covered in the TRC Staff letter of Grievances.”
Meanwhile, attempts to get comment from the Director proved futile until the time going to print last night.