LESOTHO king Letsie III’s birthday bash last week has unleashed a chorus of accusations of corruption and greed.
According to Lesotho Times, senior ministers are insisting that the annual birthday celebrations are audited after claims that crooks used it to loot millions of maloti from the state.
Things came to a head just before Tuesday’s party because of a “catering war”. According to a 2015 agreement, the work available thanks to the king’s annual celebration is supposed to be awarded to people who live in the district the party is being held in that year.
The king’s birthday celebrations are rotated each year among the country’s 10 districts.
This year Letsie’s 55th birthday was celebrated in Butha-Buthe in the north of the country. But the catering contract was initially awarded to politically connected caterers in Maseru.
At the eleventh hour pressure from senior politicians saw the decision being reversed and the work given to a local caterer.
Tempers have also flared because the cost per head for a meal was set at M2 070 (about R2 080) – more than most factory workers take home in a month.
The event was also marred by chaos, with insufficient seating for guests.
An unnamed source moaned to Lesotho Times: “Some of our colleagues suffered because the sitting arrangements were neglected by those who were fighting for tenders.”
Tourism minister, Motlohi Maliehe said: “We have decided, together with the Finance and Home Affairs ministers, to urgently institute an audit into the preparations for the King’s birthday because there is a clear indication that government is being defrauded of millions of maloti. There is a lot of corruption going on behind closed doors in the name of our king’s birthday.”