Lesotho to weed out ghost workers

Lesotho to weed out ghost workers

MASERU – THE government will in April resume a comprehensive audit of all civil servants in a bid to weed out ghost workers. The audit is expected to end in June.

To facilitate the process, the Ministry of Public Service has already asked all civil servants to register for National Identity cards. The IDs for civil servants will enable the government to determine the exact number of civil servants and stop payments to ghost workers. The decision to weed out ghost workers will help slash the civil service wage bill which the government says has veered off course.

Lesotho’s civil servants were asked to register for IDs in October last year. The exercise is scheduled to end on January 31 before the headcount begins in April. The deputy principal secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Rethabile Maluke, told a press conference last Friday that her ministry is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Each civil servant who does not have a national ID will be helped to apply and acquire it through the office of human resources in his department.

The civil servants will not be required to go to the National Identity and Civil Registry (NICR) offices but will apply right in their departments’ human resources offices. With all civil servants registered with the NICR it will be easy for the government to know who it is paying and whether that one is its employee or not. This will make it easy for the government to count its employees. The collected data of all government employees will be stored in the pay system and anybody who will not appear in it will be erased from the payroll.

Maluke urged all civil servants to make sure they are registered for the IDs.  A government circular instructing civil servants to register for the IDs was issued on December 28 last year. The Public Service Human Resources manager, ’Mamahooana Nkili, called on the civil servants to “ensure that we do what we are asked to do before the due date and let us register our names to human resource managers”.

“IDs will be used in this process to avoid duplicate records of servants, the expectation is that in June or July this process will be done,” Nkili said. The NICR director in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Tumelo Raboletsi, urged civil servants to register with the human resources manager who will take the names to home affairs that will prepare the IDs then speedily issue them to the civil servants. “This process has been chosen to avoid over-(crowding) that is occurring in home affairs offices,” Raboletsi said.

Maluke said it is vital to register before the due date because people who will not register will not be paid their monthly salaries as the system will not identify them as government employees after it is updated. “All public servants who do not have IDs are urged not to go to home affairs but to register with their human resource managers to avoid over-(crowding) that is happening in home affairs offices,” she said. Maluke said a bio-metric census will be used during the process after they realised their system was not clean.

The Public Service Ministry began the process of auditing the civil service to establish the exact number of workers in the public sector in 2013. The audit seeks to flush out ghost workers who are suspected of lumbering the public sector wage bill.
The government wants to reconcile the number of civil servants with those on its payroll and examine the legitimacy of all appointments in the public sector. The headcount was sanctioned by the then Public Service Minister, Motloheloa Phooko, but was never completed due to the political crises that followed the events of August 2014. It was meant to verify civil servants’ identities, their number, where they are posted and what they are doing. The headcount was also meant to find any illegitimate workers, how they entered into the payroll and what they were doing.

The first ministries that were to undergo the count were education, local government and health. The planned headcount of civil servants was proposed in February last year by the then Finance Minister ’Mamphono Khaketla during her budget speech. Khaketla said in an effort to manage the enormous wage bill, the Ministries of Finance, Development Planning and Public Service would jointly implement a Public Sector Modernisation Project.

“This project will tackle the alarming wage bill,” Khaketla said then. “It will strengthen the strategic level of fiscal and human resource management for better service delivery. This project, to be financed by the World Bank in an amount of US$10 million (about M150 million), will achieve  . . .  integration and reconciliation between the approved establishment list, personnel records, and payroll data,” she said. She also said it would achieve the validity of the payroll, eliminating the discrepancy between the human resource, payroll and establishment list head count.

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