By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane has announced the appointment of ‘Mathabo Mokoko as the substantive Commissioner-General of the Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL).

Mokoko took the helm as the Commissioner-General effective from September 1.

She replaces Thabo Khasipe who left the institution in December last year to join the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) as the Secretary-General.

Mokoko is the first woman to be appointed to the helm of this institution since its establishment. Her appointment has been widely received and some have commended the country, in implementing the policies and initiatives to bridge the gender gap in recruitment of the key positions.

They commended Lesotho for advancing gender equality in line with the goal number five of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is about gender equality.

Introducing the new Commissioner-General, the Minister said the RSL started the recruitment process following the departure of Khasipe in December and the local recruitment agency was engaged, Eagle Consulting Pty (Ltd) and she distinguished herself out of seven hopefuls eyeing this position.

“This process took almost eight months and finally we have come to this stage.

“I wish to congratulate ‘m’e Mathabo on her appointment as the Commissioner-General. The good thing is that she is no stranger to the revenue collection environment, having served in this organization for many years, in various roles.

“Her international and private company experience are also very critical and we believe would be much handy in providing the appropriate leadership and setting the relevant strategies to ensure the success of the RSL,” Dr Matlanyane said, promising to render her support that Will enable her to effectively discharge the functions of her office.

She underscored that the incumbent comes at a time when the country is tiptoeing out of the COVID-19 pandemic, a critical period in global economic outlook and the effects of global warming. The Minister stated that the country faces a task of reconstructing bridges, roads, healthcare facilities, and stressed that RSL is charged with collecting taxes that should make these demands possible through collection of the “much-needed” revenue.

Dr Matlanyane said as the Ministry they will help through such tools as policy directions and enacting of supporting laws for enhanced revenue collection.

“I therefore call upon you, ‘m’e Mathabo and your team to ensure that you take decisive measures to collect from all eligible taxpayers without fear, favour or prejudice as the law actually empowers you to do just that. I implore you and your team to embark on strategies that will enable you to broaden the tax net to avoid a situation whereby only a few are burdened with paying tax while the majority walk free. A fair tax system is one that treats taxpayers equally. “

Picking up the baton, Mokoko appealed for support to the nation promising to take the institution to new heights.

She thanked her predecessors for having impacted her career journey.

Mokoko said three things which she will prioritize include creating a conducive environment for RSL staff to serve efficiently, mounting of a one-stop capabilities for enhanced tax management system and building of good and sustainable relationships with all the stakeholders.

She said tax should be “bigger than everyone else”.

“I have the greatest passion for tax,” she said.

She entreated the taxpayers to treat tax paying with reverence saying it is “actually what we do as Basotho”.

“It is the only paycheck that we have for this country.”

The Commissioner-General is amongst others charged with overseeing the development of the annual Business Plan as the basis for defining divisional training and budgetary requirements; developing performance agreements with Commissioners and Executive Support annually and mid-term in line with the provisions of the Strategic and Business plans, and specify major deliverables and accountabilities in accordance with the Performance Management System.

She is also expected to mentor and coach direct reports through setting performance targets, giving feedback and confronting limitations in performance and supporting staff to improve; create meaning and value through communication of core values of the RSL in order to create a strong value driven culture and ensuring the integrity of the governance framework.

Asked what legacy she wants to leave at the institution when her tour of duty comes to an end, she said “I want that little girl, that little boy without parents, to know that the government is with them [in providing quality education]” adding.

Mokoko is also not new to the position as since December, she and other senior most officers had been acting as the Commissioner-Generals on rotation until the incumbent has been found. 

She is the first woman to have been appointed at the helm of this institution from when it was then called Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA).

Armed with Bachelor of Laws from the National University of Lesotho, and Masters in Taxation from the University of Pretoria, Mokoko brings a wealth of experience to this post having served the institution in different capacities first as a Legal Officer, Legal Officer Law Interpretation and as a Senior Manager- Policy Procedures and Law Interpretation.

She has both local and international experience, she has worked at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York as the Inter-Regional Advisor on International Tax Matters. She has held a senior position at Vodacom Lesotho where she worked as Manager Legal Affairs and Company and has also worked as the Head Legal and Board Secretary at Water and Sewage Company (WASCO).

She would later rejoin RSL as the Commissioner Operations Support and then Client Services Division as the Commissioner of Client Services a position she held until appointed Commissioner-General.

The Commissioner-General’s contract is a three year tenure and maybe renewable based on satisfaction.