By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- The office of the Government Secretary has announced that the Prime Minister Rt Hon Samuel Matekane has appointed the new Principal Secretaries (PSs) pursuant to the provisions of section 139 (1) and (2) of the Constitution. 

Prior to this appointment the government has announced a call for applications for suitably qualified candidates to cast their net.

These appointees were successful candidates in a tightly contested race where about 200 hopefuls had applied for these positions.

The panel was also made of experts from outside the country with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The newly appointed PSs are:

  1. Dr Moeketsi Letele – PS Education and Training
  2. Mr. Kanono Ramashamole- PS Information,  Communications,  Science,  Technology and Innovation
  3. Ms. Mpho Marathane – PS Gender and Youth, Sports, Arts, and Social Development
  4. Mrs ‘Mabataung Khalane – PS Defence, National Security and Environment
  5. Mr. Thabang Lekhela – PS Foreign Affairs and International Relations
  6. Mrs ‘Makhoabane Ledimo – PS Public Service, Labour and Employment
  7. Mr. Lira Ralebese – PS Justice,  Law and Parliamentary Affairs

Apart from Khalane, Lekhela, Ralebese and Ledimo who were already in public service, the other remaining three are new to the public service.

The PSs are the Chief Accounting Officers in the government Ministries. 

According to the Public Service Act, 2005 which stipulates the roles of the PSs, its section 13(2) (a) it specifies that the PS is charged with “setting directions, objectives, and appropriate guideline and strategies for the Ministry under the Principal Secretary’s supervision,  in accordance with the performance agreement entered into with the Government Secretary;

(b)”annually setting and agreeing with officers under the Principal Secretary’s supervision about their individual workplace and to supervise and monitor their performance;

(c)”assisting in the initiation, formulation and implementation of the policies of the Ministry or Department under the Principal Secretary’s supervision;

(d) “ensuring that the services which the Ministry or Department under the Principal Secretary’s supervision provides to the public and to other areas of government are delivered in accordance with the principles and object[ives] of this Act.”

These positions were usually political appointments wherein the sitting government would appoint the people affiliated to their parties. The public had expressed in the national reforms that these strategic positions and their occupants should be appointed on competitive and transparent processes.

The Matekane-led government when it assumed power following the October 7, elections last year, found about 30 PSs that were hired by the previous administration and it sought to buy out their contracts and send them to forced leave.

Aggrieved by the government attitude towards them, the PSs approached the court for the recourse, the cases which are still before the courts. Meanwhile, some of them had their contracts due to expire in 2025.

The Government Secretary then, Lerotholi Pheko sent them the correspondence that reads: “I have been directed by the Prime Minister to instruct you to take a leave of absence from work with effect from 14 April 2023, running until the hearing of the court application which will be heard on 28 April 2023.

“The government will revisit your position after your application has been heard.”