Stop the rot in pension scheme

Stop the rot in pension scheme

FINANCE Minister Thabo Sophonea last week painted a picture of a man who is under siege from corrupt elements running the Old Age Pension scheme.
Some senior officials within the Ministry of Finance have hijacked the pension scheme, a noble idea that was meant to provide financial support to the elderly.

The corrupt officials have chosen to create thousands of ghost beneficiaries, prejudicing the government of at least M200 million every year.
Even when Minister Sophonea has initiated steps to stop the looting, it would appear the odds are heavily staked against him. The officials appear determined to continue in their wayward ways.
It is clear that the minister is up against a system that is extremely rotten to the core.

Even when the Minister has made it clear that he wants to root out corrupt elements, the defiance by civil servants has been nothing but shocking.
This is staggering.
This, in our opinion, will most likely be Sophonea’s biggest challenge since he was appointed Minister last year.
The corrupt elements, however, appear determined to stick it out. This is a national embarrassment.

It would be a shame if Minister Sofonea were to give up the fight and surrender.
It is also clear that the Minister is fighting a culture of looting that has been ingrained at the ministry for years.
While there have been rumblings of discontent in the past over how the old age pension scheme was being run, this was the first detailed admission by a senior government official of the extent of the rot.

This is industrial scale theft of national resources by a rapacious elite within the civil service. Sophonea must roll his sleaves and fight to the bitter end.
We would like to believe that Sophonea has the infrastructure to defeat corruption. He must fight to change this rotten system. To give up the fight would be a gross dereliction of duty.
What we would want to see is a total clean-up of the pension office. Thanks to Sophonea’s candour, we now know the extent of the problem and all we now want to see is action to root out this cancer.

The civil servants who are manipulating this system must be hauled before the courts of law and face the music. We want to see high-profile names being prosecuted and jailed.
Unless we see some real action in fighting corruption, this sad episode will continue to repeat itself with no consequences for the corrupt.
All this is happening at a time when Lesotho supposedly has an anti-corruption unit set up to fight the scourge.

It is our well-considered position that the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) must stop barking and for once, start biting.
The criticism levelled against the DCEO, rightly or wrongly, is that it targets the small fish while leaving the sharks untouched.
If there is any case that will make the DCEO shine, it is this Old Age Pension Scheme. The anti-corruption unit must leave no stone unturned in fighting corrupt elements at the finance ministry.

The evidence is all over and all what we want to see is the DCEO jumping into action and ensuring that corrupt elements are prosecuted. It must channel all its energy in uprooting corrupt elements.
We want to see this matter being brought to its logical conclusion.

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