Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) Board member, Tankiso Sephoso, has resigned after the rights group’s Board cleared the organisation’s executive director, Tsikoane Peshoane, off all corruption accusations levelled against him by employees last month.
Peshoane returned to work following the Board decisions which came at the height of fresh accusations of sexual harassment against him by some of his female employees.
The disgruntled women reported the sexual harassment case with the Lesotho Mounted Police Service and MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism was told that the investigations were launched against Peshoane.
Inspector Marearabetsoe Mofoka, from the Office of the Police Spokesperson, told MNNthat those investigations were completed and Peshoane was arrested on Thursday, set to be taken to court on Friday.
But, Inspector Mofoka said the police legal department advised “that the docket against the suspect [Peshoane] must be taken to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane to decide on whether to go to court” and Peshoane was released.
While Peshoane is now faced with sexual harassment charges, the MNN learned that following publication of the Board decisions, one of its members, Sephoso, resigned. MNN was reliably informed that Sephoso was distancing himself from the Board decisions which exonerated Peshoane of any wrongdoing.
However, contacted for comment, Sephoso said: “Yes Sir, I resigned on personal reasons. And I can’t comment further on TRC Board business as I am no longer a member”.
Peshoane was investigated for a list of allegations that bordered on corruption after his employees filed a petition to the Board, demanding the Executive Director’s dismissal.
A month later, on March 1, the TRC Board released its decisions signed by the Board deputy chairperson Professor Tšepo Mokuku clearing Peshoane off any wrongdoing.
Professor Mokuku stepped in after the TRC employees accused the Board Chairperson, ‘Mamolefe Petlane, of protecting Peshoane and undermining the ongoing investigations against him.
According to the Board statement published on the TRC Facebook page, the investigation was conducted in a “comprehensive, thorough, and impartial manner, without fear or favour” against Peshoane.
The Board said the investigation unearthed there was no wrongdoing on the part of Peshoane on the issue of 13th cheques but noted “poor judgement on his part occasioned by the lack of funds”.
“Since the contracts of employment were terminated in December the employees were entitled to the 13th cheque (bonuses) which the board should ensure that they receive as they were mandatorily incorporated into staff contracts.
“The organisation must properly construct its employment contracts templates to incorporate the fact that continued employment with TRC, remuneration and all benefits accruing out of employment are specifically dependent on funding availability,” said the board.
On Performance Appraisals, the Board said the investigation could not establish any misconduct on the part of the Peshoane but “changes were made for efficiency”.
On opaque recruitment, the Board said it was revealed that often interns would be engaged and later employed following due process while others were headhunted but subjected to due process.
On accusation pertaining to leave days, Peshoane is said to have acted within the dictates of the TRC policy.
On accusations of spontaneous organisational structure changes, the Board said it unearthed that they were influenced by “programming considerations and properly approved and communicated to staff”.
“However, TRC should see more engagement with staff on position reconfigurations to ensure they appreciate the business reasons for the changes. Management must ensure that staff understands and appreciates changes to help the latter not construe the adjustments as malevolent,” reads the board statement.
On alleged poor financial management, the Board said the investigations have highlighted issues already raised by auditors that “there is a need for improvements on systems, of which neither the investigation reports nor audit reports implicated ED [Peshoane] of any fraud in execution of his functions.
“However, there are expenditures approvals done with advice of finance unit, which undermined strict adherence to original budget lines that were influenced by co-mingling budgets because there is no clarity on how activities’ co-financing and cost-sharing should be done.
“The investigation has recommended herein that misallocated expenditures be reversed and appropriately charged to Donors to whom they relate or be absorbed by TRC, if not specific to any donor”.
On overspending on particular budget line items such as capital expenditure, the board statement said the cited examples of overspending on the procurement of a vehicle were reviewed and found comprehensive in terms of proper approvals through the Board.
“The total overspend was also determined as M186,218.00 and not M300,000.00. However, the Board has noted as highlighted in the investigation report that the justification for such overspending needed to be properly documented as that is extremely valuable for compliance and audit purposes,” said the board.
On accusations of misuse of assets, the board said the investigation has reviewed terms of engagement for Peshoane and noted that he is entitled to a petrol allowance of M3000.00 and personal use of the organisation’s vehicle.
“…use of organisational vehicle full time for personal use does not, therefore, constitute misuse to the extent allowed by organisation policy or properly sanctioned by the Board as it the case herein.
“Regarding petrol abuse, a voucher for M20,101.05 for several vehicles was reviewed and none of those vehicles had incurred the alleged amount between the 10 December 2021 to 16th January 2022.
“Although there is no evidence of misuse the Board must strengthen its oversight to ensure that there are clear monitoring systems of tracking personal use and ensuring that payments of all allowances and fringe benefits are within limits prescribed,” reads the statement.
The board said the investigation concluded that certain grievances were “misconstrued, others unfounded (inaccurate), whilst others though legitimate were not the doing of the Executive Director and cannot hold him liable”.
The Board ended its statement by proclaiming that it is “convinced of Mr Tsikoane Peshoane’s abilities and capabilities at the helm of the organisation and in dispensing its mandate”.