MASERU – In an attempt to introspect the efficiency and effectiveness in the regulation of the mining sector, the mining ministry has identified a need to empower the directors nominated to represent the government in the boards of various commercial mining companies.
The ministry, therefore, conducted an induction session for the directors at the ministry`s boardroom on August 29, 2018 where they were equipped with necessary knowledge and tools to execute their duties and responsibilities as members of the boards.
When welcoming the directors, the Principal Secretary, Ntahli Matete, stressed his discomfort to discover that the directors were operating in silos while they are expected to be singing one song with rhythmic lyrics on their duties. “It is high time that we reconnect and try to standardise our mode of operation, such as our reporting frequency, and how we get feedback from your side on issues demanding our urgent attention,” said Mr Matete.
Most importantly, “creating an internal communication strategy that will enable a simplified means of quicker communication among us without any hindrances can help quite a lot,” reiterates the Principal Secretary while opening the floor for everyone to share their views.
In his words of appreciation and on behalf of the rest of other mining directors one director whose name is withheld due to security purposes acknowledged the ministry’s gesture of bringing them on board as they might have experienced different challenges, and had to face them all by themselves. “We were feeling neglected and lost without our mother ministry’s support,” said the director, adding that they cannot wait to hear where their jurisdiction starts and ends.
When getting to the core business of the day, the Chief Legal Officer, Mathealea Lerotholi, told them that the terms of reference are prepared to assist the government directors in clarifying responsibilities and ensuring effective communication between the directors and the shareholder.
She added that in order to ensure that the government is represented in the mining companies’ boards, “at least one director nominated by the government shall be present for a quorum to be constituted.”
On top of all that, the directors have responsibilities and duties which they are expected to perform, and amongst them, she highlighted the following in no particular order:
Participation in every board sitting
. Ensuring implementation of government’s interests, integrity of the company’s internal controls, and management information systems and that they are dealt in accordance with the law;
. Ensuring compliance with mining leases, all major corporate policies and procedures that govern the mining companies’ operations;
. Ensuring timely reporting of any other developments that have a significant and material effect on the companies mining Lease agreements and the applicable laws.
Based on their clear mandate as presented, the directors discovered that they need to up their game in order to perform to expectation. However, there were certain areas that appeared as matters concerned which they have deemed critical and worth shedding light with their Ministry leadership.
Amongst them were “If honestly we are vested with “Fiduciary Duty” as I consider this to be the core of our mandate, then this means we are carrying a responsibility that we also have to ensure accountability and transparency or else we will one day be cursed by grandchildren,” emphasised one director whose name is also withheld for their protection.
Another director asked whether the ministry was aware that as directors, their powers are slightly limited, for instance, the ministry is not represented in the process of marketing and selling of the diamonds at Antwerp in Belgium.
“The main reason why I say this is because I have realised that whatever the tender results that are being reported by the mining companies, it might not be the true picture of the reality as we are not privy to, and have no means to verify the information on the post-sale results of the diamonds”, said the director.
The ministry was advised that, perhaps, it was high time that it acted swiftly to redeem this situation in order to realise the best sales returns, otherwise, the country will forever be cheated.
Finally, the directors identified the need to involve Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) to ensure collection of all kinds of revenue. In this respect, the Deputy Principal Secretary (DPS), Lira Ralebese, assured them that, “we have just established a team of officials from both the ministry of mining and the LRA with clear terms of reference, aiming to achieve the objective of maximising tax collection” Mr Ralebese reported.