Ministry battles to clear debts

Ministry battles to clear debts

MASERU – THE Ministry of Home Affairs says it “owes millions of maloti” to Basotho companies that provided services to the government over the last three years. The ministry’s Principal Secretary ’Machabana Lemphane-Letsie said the ministry is battling to clear the payments.
Lemphane-Letsie said what had made the situation difficult is that it is sometimes not clear what services and goods were provided by the companies.
Despite their efforts to clear the debts, new claimants are continuing to submit invoices.

Lemphane-Letsie did not disclose how much the ministry owes service providers because there is no proper documentation of what happened.
She said some of these debts were incurred by the ministry when King Letsie III was celebrating his 50th birthday in 2013.
The Ministry of Home Affairs was responsible for all the preparations of the King’s birthday.

Some local businesses were given some jobs to perform and were in turn supposed to be paid.
Some of the activities included catering. “When we came into power after the June 3 general elections, we called on all the people that my ministry owed to come to the fore,” Lempahane-Letsie said.

She said she received a pile of files on her desk of people who claimed that her ministry had not processed their payments.
She said this was a legacy of the previous government. “This was not done by us,” she said.

She said they were trying to help Basotho get their payments but the process was fraught with difficulties because it was not clear what the claimants had actually done. Lemphane-Letsie said what is more frustrating is that there is no record that shows who did what.
This has made it difficult for her ministry to process the payments. However, she told thepost that her ministry was able to pay some of the claims while others were rejected pending further investigations.

“We do not know what happened because we were not there,” Lemphane-Letsie said.
She said they were hoping that all outstanding balances will be cleared.
She further told this paper that her ministry is also drowning in debts after deploying Basotho in South Africa last year to help with the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) applications.

She reiterated that some of the people who rendered services to her ministry had no contracts.
She said the ministry is processing a report that will give a clear picture of what happened.
Lemphane-Letsie said her ministry owes M5 million to suppliers for the project.

She said Basotho who were hired to do the project have not been paid all their monies. This included money for accommodation, food allowances and transport amongst others. She said when the previous government entered into an agreement with the South African government, it seems like this project was not budgeted for. The Lesotho government had deployed staff at various centres for birth registration and ID enrolment.

The Lesotho National Identity and Civil Registry operated seven days a week to facilitate the LSP process for its nationals.
Not all Lesotho citizens had Lesotho identity documents, while some applicants were battling to provide the required documents and others feared arrest related to the amnesty process.

The LSP programme was launched on February 1 last year. Lemphane-Letsie said her ministry is experiencing a serious cash flow crisis owing to outstanding balances that have not been cleared. Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Machesetsa Mofomobe said corruption at his ministry is rampant and deeply rooted.

He said records show that cars at his ministry were being changed tyres within two weeks.
Mofomobe said the ministry will conduct a thorough audit at the end of every financial year to plug the holes.

Majara Molupe

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