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Wasco fiasco

Business

…as police agents stationed at the company headquarters are axed over corruption

Mohloai Mpesi

Corruption allegations meted against the Board of Directors of the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) by its Chief Executive Officer Futho Hoohlo have cast an even darker shade on the water utility’s board and its real involvement in corruption.

This after the board showed Hoohlo the door for telling on it when he reported suspect activities in the company procurement procedures of a company engaged to investigate him.

Now the board has decided to do away with a unit of the police stationed at the water utility to ensure that everything happening at the company is above board and legal.

In terms of article 2 of the MOU between Wasco and LMPS, the parties agree that the purpose and objective of the Memorandum is to set out a framework for the parties to facilitate co-ordination, co-operate and assist in the fight against vandalism, illegal water connections and under or any criminal activities against Wasco.

“The parties further agree that the LMPS will provide to WASCO, the fullest assistance within the framework of the MOU and as authorised by law in relation to the co-ordination, co-operation and assistance in enforcement actions and investigations that are aimed at fighting vandalism, illegal connections and or any crime against WASCO, whether perpetrated by members of the public or WASCO’s own staff,” it reads in part.

The rot which was connected to the company’s Board reported that the same Board suspended Hoohlo who reported irregularities in the company to the police officials posted at Wasco premises.

Hoohlo had reported that a probing company (Quantum Advisory Services) engaged from neighbouring South Africa to investigate him, was involved without following proper procurement procedures which according to him poses criminal possibilities. However, snitching to the police didn’t help as he was still put on ice.   

Newsday has since learnt that no sooner had Hoohlo left than, did the board terminate its agreement with the police

Apparently, Hoohlo hurried to report to the police after observing a fraudulent activity in the process of investigations. According to him, there was procurement irregularities in the appointment of the investigation company. It was upon this development that the board gave him an opportunity to show cause if any why he would not be suspended to which he had defended his actions.

However, the board still went ahead and put him on a two-week suspension.

 According to sources privy to the matter, the Board of Directors did not hesitate to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as soon Hoohlo was out of office.

 â€œEverything that involves finances has to go through procurement processes but with this one it was different. We only heard that the investigating people have arrived, yet no processes have been made to be sure if the budget is available to secure money for the investigating team,” the source said.   

“Swiftly after Hoohlo got suspended, the Board of Directors terminated their MOU agreement with LMPS, until now we don’t know the reason,” the source said.

“Everything has to follow procurement processes of the Wasco procurement policy and regulations,” the source said.

The chairperson of the Board of Directors of Wasco, Chabeli Ramolise did not refute the fact that they had let the law enforcers go, nor the fact that they did so to cover the board’s untoward actions.

He refused to comment any further saying the matter was to be worked hush-hush.

“This is an internal affair of the company and not for public consumption, so I cannot comment on this matter. Bye-bye,” he said.

The Police Spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli also declined to confirm directing this paper to Wasco about the matter.

“Ask Wasco,” he said.

According to a suspension letter addressed to Hoohlo, Ramolise stipulated that Hoohlo was not supposed to have reported a possible criminal activity against the Board to the police.

“You did not formally report a crime at any police station or post in the country but reported the purported crime against the Board to some agents of Lesotho Mounted Police Services stationed at the precincts of Water Services Company.

“The posting of the said agents of LMPS is not a product of the legislature but a contractual arrangement between Wasco and LMPS.

“The said agents were originally under the administration supervision of Chief Legal Officer and Company Secretary but you elected to unilaterally assume supervisory control over for reasons which now become abundantly clear as borne out by your response and conduct.

Hoohlo indicated in his responding letter dated April 6, 2021 that the police were called to investigate a potentially unlawful and illegal procurement process undertaken at Wasco as was the police’s mandate in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between the LMPS and WASCO.      

To keep the ball rolling, he had further written to the police citing that on March 9, he received the letter from the chairman of the Board Ramolise informing him of the appointment of Quantum Advisory Service to undertake investigations against him, where one Dominic Metlae was introduced as the lead investigator of same.

He said, “I immediately requested to see the requisition which the manager sent to Director Finance immediately via email. The director gave the requisition to me hence I observed that the requisition was signed by the Chief Internal Auditor, ‘Mafumane Kubu, as the requesting officer, and authorised by chairman of Finance Risk Audit Committee (FRAC), Pusetso Matekane, as the Authoring Officer. The requesting had no figures and or quotations. Having questioned the Director Finance, I found the whole transactions highly irregular and suspicious and consequently reported the whole matter to the police,” he said.         

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