Villagers fight councillor over M10

Villagers fight councillor over M10

MOHALE’S HOEK – A councillor in Qaqatu has come under fire from villagers for allegedly charging them for free government services.   ’Manthabiseng Pata, councillor for Maphutseng and Phamong villages, is accused of making villagers pay M10 each for birth certificates and IDs.  These services were being provided by officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs ’ National Identity and Civil Registration (NICR) who have been in the area on an outreach programme.  Qaqatu MP, Lethusang Kompi, who is also the Home Affairs Deputy Minister, had organised the outreach programme to help people register.  The programme was meant to coincide with the festive holidays when most people were at home. Pata however told thepost that the allegations are malicious because she never collected the M10 fee for herself but to feed NICR officials helping the villagers.

“The MP (Kompi) told me that he had organised for NICR people to come to our constituency but the community would have to be responsible for feeding them,” Pata said.
She said she understood that providing food and accommodation to the officials was a small price to pay because the villagers were already paying a lot of money to travel to Mohale’s Hoek for the same services. “The villagers said although they need the services they cannot feed NICR servants because they too are hungry,” Pata said.  Before the NICR officials arrived on December 27 Pata met council members to discuss the issue. “There were suggestions that each community member should contribute M5 but that wasn’t enough and it was later increased to M10.”  “Be aware that these decisions are not taken by me alone. It is a contribution of thoughts from the council members, the chief and other members of the community who helped in organising the event.”

The problem, Pata said, started on the fourth day when some villagers started asking why they were paying M10 instead of the M5 that had been suggested earlier.
Some questioned why they should be contributing when the MP and the council are aware that they are poor.   “I was certain that some of them were able to pay the M10 but only came without it because they wanted to challenge me and so I had to be strict on who would go in to get services and who wouldn’t.  “There were old people whom I was sure didn’t have anything and I would let them go through.”  Pata said on December 31 the number of people coming for the services had almost doubled.  “The NICR people promised to come back some other time to finish what they had started.” A few days later Pata was questioned by the Mohale’s Hoek police after some villages complained about the M10-fee.  “The police said that issue could easily be resolved out of court. I was then instructed to give back the monies to those that needed them back,” Pata said. Director of NICR Tumelo Raboletsi said he has not received any complaint from Qaqatu. He however said “we have a budget towards places we shall go to”.  “This outreach programme is fully financed by the ministry for food, accommodation, transport and other logistical issues,” Raboletsi said. He said in cases where MPs, councillors or individuals invite them “we request that those that invite us should offer accommodation and food”.  “If they agree to offer these then we are set to give services at that particular place,” Raboletsi said.

“All we request is accommodation and food, how the community, the MP, organisation or council decides to do that, we are totally not involved,” he said. Raboletsi said the NICR does not refuse services to those who have not contributed to their food and accommodation.  “We are sometimes asked by the organisers of such outreach that we start with people who contributed towards the success of it and probably those that are busy preparing meals during the course of the outreach but thereafter everyone can get the services.”  “We offer services to Basotho and no village politics shall stand in our way to do so.” Raboletsi said the department is planning to reach other remote areas in the next financial year.  “Last year we had planned for many outreaches but the urgency of the Lesotho Special Permit project redirected the budgeted money of these activities but now that that is out of the way we are sure to cover places we couldn’t,” Raboletsi said. Raboletsi said over 1.3 million Basotho have registered with NICR and they are hoping that by 2018/2019 at least 90 percent of the population of the country would have registered. “This will give us time to concentrate on new births, deaths, marriages and divorces because as long as we live all of those will be happening naturally,” Raboletsi said.

Rose Moremoholo

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