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Civil servants see red over pay

Ntsebeng Motsoeli


MASERU — Labour unions representing civil servants are angry at the 3.5 percent salary adjustment announced by Finance Minister Timothy Thahane in his budget presentation in parliament on Friday.

Thahane said all government employees would receive the wage increase beginning April but unions representing the police, teachers and other government departments have condemned the adjustment as a “slap in the face”.

They said the 3.5 percent will not improve their lot as they are already extremely underpaid.

The president of the Lesotho Mounted Police Staff Association (LMPSA), Neo Rantjanyana, told the Sunday Express on Friday the “paltry” increase was tantamount to “biting the hand that feeds you”.

Rantjanyana, who said police officers earn between M2 800 and M3 000 a month, added the LMPSA executive committee would meet this week to discuss the way forward.

“We are not satisfied with the salary adjustment,” Rantjanyana said.

“It is surprising we get so little yet not so long ago parliamentarians proposed an adjustment which would see them getting almost the same salaries as their South African counterparts.”

A Member of Parliament earns about M15 000 a month.

This is in addition to the M500 000 tax-free loans they get from the government as well as sitting allowances.

A 3.5 percent increase would add another M525 on their monthly salary.

“What kind of a father would want to fill his stomach and forget about his own children?” said Rantjanyana.

He said it was “amazing” how public servants were ridiculed by their own employer for providing shoddy services and at the same time expected to provide quality services to the public.

“The police are always being told to provide good service but how can we do that when we are not satisfied with our remuneration?” he said.

According to Rantjanyana, police officers were the most marginalised as the Ministry of Home Affairs — under which the Lesotho Mounted Police Service falls — is saddled with too many responsibilities.

“Home Affairs is made up of too many departments, which have to get their share from the budget allocation. As a result, we get too little for salaries,” he said.

Rantjanyana is proposing an independent ministry for the police, which he said would go a long way in improving their lot.

“Maybe if police services had their own separate ministry things would be better,” he said.

“Maybe we would get better salaries.”

He pointed out the 3.5 percent adjustment would mean an increase of between M98 to M105 for their members.

“This is what they use to pay rent, school fees for their children and daily needs,” he added.

“This creates bitterness and anger among the force.

“You cannot bite the hand that feeds you.”

Executive secretary of the Lesotho Teachers Association (LTA), Africa Makakane, said the salary adjustment “was just too little”.

“This is an insult to public servants,” said Makakane.

“This increase is not going to make any difference.

“It is of no value; it degrades civil servants.”

Secretary-general of the newly formed Pragmatic Lesotho Public Employees Association (PALPE), S’khulumi Ntsoaole, described the increment as peanuts.

“We were hoping public servants would at least get 10 to 12 percent,” he said.

“The 3.5 percent increase we have been awarded is just peanuts.”

Both the LTA and PALPE would not say what their next course of action would be following Friday’s announcement.

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