ColumnsEditorial

Crack the whip

THE government this week announced that Karabo Mabote, the former acting director of the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS), had been fired.

Finance Minister Timothy Thahane said Mabote was dismissed for breaching sections of the Public Service Act.

Although he did not give details of Mabote’s offence, Thahane made it clear the move was part of efforts to have a “cleaner” and “more transparent” NMDS.

It is significant that Mabote, as reported in this paper, accepted the government’s decision to fire him without having to appeal.

For now, what exactly Mabote did to warrant his dismissal remains a subject of speculation.

But the development should boost Basotho’s confidence in an establishment that in their eyes had become synonymous with red tape and ineptitude.

For years, Basotho have lived with suspicions that some students have corruptly benefited from the grants disbursed by the NMDS at the expense of deserving applicants.

The service at the NMDS has always left a lot to be desired.

The government, on the other hand, has expressed frustration at the NMDS’s failure to ensure student loans are repaid.

Officials at the NMDS have admitted they do not have proper systems to run an effective database that would enable them to dispense their duties efficiently.

Yet the NMDS is one of the most critical government departments in as far as developing manpower through education is concerned.

Lesotho is one of the world’s least developed countries, with the majority of the kingdom’s 1.8 million people wallowing in poverty.

Hence the importance of education to uplift the standard of living in the country cannot be overemphasised.

The NMDS, like every government department, ought to be corrupt-free and run competently.

The dismissal of Mabote can only be the starting point.

Like they say, when a fish rots it starts from the head.

The government’s biggest challenge is to overhaul the entire NMDS and flush out corrupt, nepotic and incompetent employees.

The work is clearly cut out for the new director at the NMDS.

Ours will be to keep an eager eye to see how clean the new broom will sweep.

The government, too, will need to stay alert.

The powers-that-be ought to be proactive rather than reactive.

For now, we can only applaud the government for the major step it has taken in the fight against bureaucratic corruption.

We have not forgotten too how Lesotho tackled graft in the multi-billion-maloti Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme head on and prosecuted corrupt officials and bribe-paying corporations.

For a kingdom as small as ours, Lesotho is punching above its weight.

But the government’s exemplary moves can only be futile unless more is done to rid Lesotho of deep-rooted corrupt practices.

Not a day passes without citizens of this kingdom complaining about poor service rendered by government institutions.

We have heard many cases of civil servants who treat people of this country as if they owe them a living.

Civil servants have earned themselves a notorious reputation of not only being indolent but also corrupt.  

People complain that civil servants demand bribes to do jobs taxpayers pay them to do.

With that, we can never move forward as a nation.

This calls for the government to revamp the civil service by tackling widespread corruption and the dereliction of duty that characterises most government institutions.

A government that watches while its workers dabble in corrupt activities has itself to blame when it is voted out.

All the political talk about service delivery will remain just that if authorities do not demand transparency from civil servants who are the very face of the government.

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