Tha­bane warns of “dark cloud” of law­less­ness

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane (pic­tured) has spo­ken of a “dark cloud hang­ing over the coun­try” due to ram­pant law­less­ness, lack of ac­count­abil­ity and abuse of na­tional re­sources es­pe­cially by civil ser­vants. Dr Tha­bane said this while of­fi­cially open­ing a one-day re­treat for prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries in Berea on Tues­day. He said the re­treat was be­ing held against the back­ground of pub­lic dis­con­tent over poor ser­vice de­liv­ery by civil ser­vants across all the sec­tors of gov­ern­ment. He con­ceded that the po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity which was ev­i­denced by the pre­ma­ture col­lapse of gov­ern­ments con­trib­uted to the poor per­for­mance of the civil ser­vice. The cur­rent four party coali­tion is the third gov­ern­ment that Le­sotho has had in five years after the col­lapse of two gov­ern­ments in 2015 and 2017. “The very fact that this is the third gov­ern­ment in a space of five years, which is sup­posed to be a life­time of a sin­gle gov­ern­ment, is a grave tes­ti­mony of the se­ri­ous chal­lenges fac­ing this na­tion in the choice and shep­herd­ing of those del­e­gated to man­age the af­fairs of our com­mu­ni­ties,” Dr Tha­bane said. He said al­though there was po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, there was no es­cap­ing the fact that the civil ser­vice had it­self been guilty of abus­ing na­tional re­sources and lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the dis­charge of its man­date.

“While this stum­bling block (the col­lapse of gov­ern­ments) that the pub­lic ser­vice has had to con­tend with can­not be ca­su­ally ex­plained away with a slight of hand, the na­tion will cer­tainly be alert to the dark cloud of law­less­ness, lack of ac­count­abil­ity, wan­ton abuse of na­tional re­sources, de­pressed morale and re­sul­tant death of pro­fes­sion­al­ism among civil ser­vants in re­cent years.”

He said his gov­ern­ment could ill af­ford to al­low the lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and the re­sul­tant poor ser­vice de­liv­ery to con­tinue and it would there­fore work flat out to rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion.

He said the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to the pre­cepts of good gov­er­nance — en­com­pass­ing trans­parency, open­ness, ac­count­abil­ity and re­spon­sive­ness to ci­ti­zens’ de­mands — was il­lus­trated by its de­ci­sion to al­low the me­dia to broad­cast the pro­ceed­ings of the Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee (PAC) and other par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees.

So far PAC un­der the lead­er­ship of the Move­ment for Eco­nomic Change leader, Se­libe Mo­choboroane, has un­cov­ered mas­sive ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in­volv­ing mil­lions of maloti since it be­gan grilling se­nior civil ser­vants on 5 Feb­ru­ary this year. It has also sought to have four se­nior of­fi­cials from dif­fer­ent min­istries im­pris­oned for mis­lead­ing the Na­tional Assem­bly.

The PAC also rec­om­mended that Berea Dis­trict Coun­cil Sec­re­tary, ‘Matha­bang Tlali; Eco­nomic Planner, Nt­so­tiseng Mo­taung and an­other of­fi­cial iden­ti­fied as Mosebi Mokhubu be slapped with a one-year jail term each or a M1 000 fine for ly­ing to the com­mit­tee.

The trio had lied that the Berea Dis­trict Coun­cil had con­structed roads in the Ha Makoanyane area.

The port­fo­lio com­mit­tee also rec­om­mended that an of­fi­cial in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing’s Ed­u­ca­tion Fa­cil­i­ties Unit (EFU), ‘Malite­boho Makhoali, be jailed for mis­us­ing M300 000 ear­marked for the de­vel­op­ment of a school in Ke­tane.

And on Tues­day, Dr Tha­bane said such find­ings by the PAC and other par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees were “fright­en­ing”.

He said his gov­ern­ment had no choice but to take cor­rec­tive mea­sures be­cause the fail­ure to act was the rea­son be­hind the col­lapse of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments. He said it was for this rea­son that the gov­ern­ment had or­gan­ised the re­treat for prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries.

“The gov­ern­ment is aware of the na­tion’s anx­i­ety on the slow pace of ser­vice de­liv­ery hence this re­treat. The gov­ern­ment is do­ing its best to open all chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion so that it is on the same page with its masters who are the na­tion. We need to do away with all ob­sta­cles to meet­ing the na­tion’s needs,” Dr Tha­bane said.

Dr Tha­bane also spoke about the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to meet­ing the dead­line for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the con­sti­tu­tional, se­cu­rity sec­tor, gov­er­nance, pub­lic ser­vice and me­dia re­forms.

Last week the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) gave Le­sotho un­til May 2019 to fully im­ple­ment the con­sti­tu­tional and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms.

Com­ment­ing on the SADC dead­line, Dr Tha­bane said, “Much has been made of the re­cent SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit’s May 2019 dead­line for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of con­sti­tu­tional and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms”.

“This can­not be played down by this gov­ern­ment which agreed (to the dead­line) as an equal and will­ing part­ner with other state par­ties. It is com­mon knowl­edge that it is cus­tom­ary for SADC and other bod­ies to pen­cil dates for achieve­ments of agree­ments or any other ac­tiv­ity which should be time-bound and this is not a first for Le­sotho.”

Le­sotho is gen­er­ally way be­hind in terms of the re­forms time­line hence the SADC dead­line.

Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment’s roadmap for re­forms, na­tional dia­logue on the re­forms should have been held by now and an agree­ment should have been reached on the re­forms to the jus­tice sec­tor, among other things.

The roadmap fur­ther states that by now the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Pol­icy (NSP) of Le­sotho should have been adopted and a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil es­tab­lished.

“Leg­is­la­tion to clar­ify and har­monise se­cu­rity sec­tor ar­chi­tec­ture in line with Nsp/se­cu­rity Sec­tor Strat­egy (should have been) adopted.

“The leg­isla­tive process should be pre­ceded by multi-stake­holder dis­cus­sions around the key top­ics that should be ad­dressed in the law in­clud­ing the Na­tional De­fence Act and the Po­lice Act. The dis­cus­sions should be in­formed by re­gional, con­ti­nen­tal and in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice,” part of the roadmap states.

How­ever, Dr Tha­bane said the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ments to re­forms had been am­ply demon­strated by the pub­li­ca­tion of the re­forms roadmap which has since been en­dorsed by SADC.

He said the se­ries of con­sul­ta­tions in­volv­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties and other stake­hold­ers was fur­ther ev­i­dence of the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to the re­forms.

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