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Belt-tightening must start from the top

PRIME Minister Tom Thabane should be commended for refusing to move into a hotel while the State House is being renovated.
Thabane said he will stay in his Abia home because “it will be unfair to make the poor people of this country pay huge hotel bills”.
We agree with his position and applaud his attitude.
Lesotho cannot afford luxuries at the moment.
The belt-tightening must start with top government officials and the new prime minister has shown that he is willing to do just that.
We just hope Thabane is not politicking.
By staying at his humble home in the meantime Thabane has saved this country a lot of money that can be used on other pressing problems.
His bill and that of his bodyguards could have easily run into tens of thousands of maloti within weeks.
A presidential suite at Lesotho Sun, where he had been asked to stay, costs just under M5 000 per night.
A standard room costs M1 850.
That Thabane chose to forego what was otherwise a genuine entitlement should be applauded.
This is the same approach we expect to see from other members of Thabane’s coalition government.
Ministers and senior government officials must be frugal with government resources.
It will be a shame if Thabane preaches austerity while his colleagues in government insist on living like kings at the government’s expense.
We hope to see Thabane applying the same principle on many other things.
For instance, it would save this country a fortune if ministers had one official car each instead of the four they had under the previous government.
Imagine how much this country would save if senior government officials start travelling economy instead of business class on international trips.
Foreign trips must be kept to a minimum and the hefty per diems that had become a permanent source of income for some in the previous government must be reduced.
Senior government officials must stay away from five-star hotels unless they are paying the bills from their own pockets.
Let’s have workshops in government offices instead of expensive hotels.
While cutting down on luxuries for senior government officials Thabane must also plug the holes through which the government is losing money.
There is no denying that under the previous government officials were enriching themselves by tinkering with the procurement processes.
Tenders were being rigged while prices of goods and services supplied to the government were inflated.
In one case at the prime minister’s office the government was paying as much at M90 for a drink that costs M14 at most.
That just goes to show us what happens when people in strategic positions are left to their own devices.
Thabane has a chance to stop such chicanery and plug the holes.
He must start now and not tomorrow.

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