Audit civil service

Audit civil service

WE welcome the announcement by Public Service Minister Thesele ’Maseribane this week to carry out a comprehensive audit of the civil service. It was long overdue. ’Maseribane said the ministry will, beginning in September, carry out a biometric registration of all civil servants in a move that will weed out ghost workers.

He also spoke of the need to improve the quality of services by civil servants. Concerns have been raised in the past about the suspected presence of ghost workers in the civil service. The ghost workers have been blamed for the bloated wage bill for the government.
Yet no comprehensive audit has been carried out to establish, if any, the extent of the problem and propose workable solutions.
Sadly, the rot has also filtered down to other key government programmes such as the Old-Age Pension Scheme. We cannot emphasise more why it is critical for the government to carry out such an audit to clean up the civil service.

Lesotho’s biggest donors, such as the European Union (EU), have in the past raised serious concerns about the numbers in the civil service.
In March last year, the EU withheld 26.85 million euros (M391 million) it had allocated to Lesotho for budgetary support.
The chief reason for the withdrawal of support was that Lesotho had failed to comply with the tough conditions the EU had set for Lesotho. The EU wanted Lesotho to undertake comprehensive public finance management reforms.

EU ambassador to Lesotho, Dr Michael Doyle, told this newspaper last year that much still needs to be done to “get rid of ghost workers (in the civil service) and ghost pensioners”. It is against this background that Lesotho must approach the September exercise cognisant that key donors are watching and want to see real progress on the matter.

This exercise will be good for Lesotho. It will clean up the wage roll and eliminate unnecessary leakages. While this exercise will be in full swing, ’Maseribane must resist the temptation to politicise the whole job allocation exercise by reserving some jobs to government supporters.
’Maseribane revealed at the press conference that at least 9 584 young graduates have registered with his ministry.
The government, which is the biggest employer in Lesotho with over 45 000 workers, cannot absorb all graduates who leave our universities and colleges every year.

However, when there are openings in the civil service, the recruitment process must be removed far away from politics. Jobs must be given to the best candidates irrespective of political affiliation. There must be a clear departure from the practices of the past when jobs were parcelled on the basis of party affiliation.

This government must arise above such pettiness and act in a manner that will not bring any reproach to its name. Of course, this will require strong self-will on the part of government ministers who might be tempted to allocate jobs to their party faithful. That would be a mistake.
This is no payback time. Government ministries must serve the interests of all Basotho irrespective of their party colours.’Maseribane’s comments perhaps capture in a nutshell why every Mosotho who has Lesotho’s interests at heart must support the SADC-driven reforms.

The reforms will also likely fundamentally alter how the civil service will be run. They could also help bring Lesotho in line with international best practices.

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