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Besieged WASCO boss fights back

The Chief Executive Officer of WASCO Futho Hoohlo

Feb. 9, 2021 4 min read

4 min read

EMBATTLED Lesotho Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) boss Futho Hoohlo, who has been under investigation since November has taken a swing at the company’s board, saying it is under immense pressure from government to get rid of him.

It has emerged that the government as the major shareholder in the company is threatening to dissolve the board if it fails to ensure that the Mr Hoohlo is removed from his position.

The Chief Executive Officer was suspended on November 16 pending investigations into allegations of misconduct and breaching of the company policies as well as contravening his employment contract among others.

In a show cause why letter written to him by the company’s Chairman of the Board, Chabeli Ramolise, Mr Hoohlo is alleged to be a board member of other entities and participates in board meetings of those entities during WASCO working hours, thus contravening not only his employment contract, but also the company’s policies and regulations.

Mr Hoohlo sits as a trustee to the board of Public Officers and Specified Offices Defined Contribution Pension Funds.

He is alleged to have suspended applications for new water connections during the calendar year 2020 until January 2021, leading to WASCO losing its revenue in the process.

“During the calendar year 2020 until January 2021, under your leadership, WASCO suspended applications for new water connections. You did not exercise proper care and attention in taking this decision which led or was likely to lead to WASCO losing revenue.

“As a result, you are alleged to have acted in a grossly negligent manner in taking the decision on the issue, particularly when TOC had already expressed its reservation about the idea of suspending applications for the new water connections when it was raised in its 5th ordinary meeting,” Mr Ramolise said in a letter to the CEO dated February 3, 2021.

This publication is in possession of the letters, one from the chairman and another from the CEO.

The CEO is further alleged to have circumvented WASCO Secondment Policy and seconded the Director of Corporate Services, Litsebe Jimson, to the National COVOD-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) contrary to the company’s secondment policy.

The allegations are that during or about August 2020, Mr Hoohlo made a false statement during the Human Resource and Remunerations Committee meeting to the effect that Mr Jimson was not seconded to NACOSEC when he in fact knew that he had been.

“Please indicate in writing before close of business on the 5th February 2021 why disciplinary action may not be taken against you based on the above allegations. You will appreciate the board is giving you this opportunity out of courtesy as there is no provision in the WASCO policies requiring the board to invite you to make representations why you may not be disciplined,” the chairman showed.

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But, despite all the allegations that saw him being investigated, Mr Hoohlo denies all accusations leveled against him, arguing the board is only being pressurised to kick him out.

“I confirm and believe that I should not be subjected to disciplinary proceedings in respect of these allegations as suggested. I have reasons to believe that the board is being pressurised to dismiss me. I reiterate that you have informed me that the board is under pressure to get rid of me,” the CEO said in his own letter to the board.

On the issue of sitting on the board of other companies, he confirmed that he is a trustee to the Boards of the Public Officers and Specified Offices Defined Contribution Pension Funds, a situation which he contends the WASCO board is fully aware of.

 “Upon my appointment, I notified you of my membership of those boards. You consented that my membership would not conflict with my duties and that as long as I would make up for the time that I spend in its meetings, there would be no problem. As a matter of fact, the board has always known that I am a member of the Board of Trustees of the Pension Fund since my appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of WASCO,” Mr Hoohlo said in a four paged letter to the chairman.

He vehemently denied suspending applications for new water connections since last year.

He said he informed the board of the plan to execute this decision in order for the company to address and resolve issues relating to backlogs of water connections, a decision which he argues was commended by the board as great and in the best interest of the company.

“I deny also that I circumvented WASCO secondment policy and I deny that I seconded the Director of Corporate Services, Mr Litsebe Jimson to NACOSEC as alleged. Mr Jimson remained an employee of WASCO and was attached to NACOSEC as a representative of the company,” he also said.  







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