Declare your assets, public servants told
PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has ordered all civil servants to declare their assets to end corruption.
Dr Thabane said this at the recently held Public Service day that was celebrated at Setsoto Stadium in Maseru.
The day which was marked by live musical performances by some of the country’s top artistes such as Selimo Thabane, Mantša, Sentšo and different sporting activities, is held to celebrate the value and virtue of service to the community.
The celebrations were held under the theme: Combating Corruption in Government institutions in order to achieve 2063 Millennium Goals.
The day is celebrated across the world annually on 23 June to recognise that democracy and successful governance are built on the foundation of a competent civil service.
Dr Thabane said poor service delivery breeds corruption and therefore ordered that all civil servants must declare their assets failure of which is undermining authority.
“This country has laws in place to fight corruption and among then we can single out the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act on declaration of assets, which stipulates that everyone who is on the government’s payroll must declare their assets,” Dr Thabane said.
“I am particularly following this matter and those who fail to comply with this requirement deserve to face the wrath of the law.
“It is clear that poor service delivery attracts corruption and that is very dangerous to this country or any other. That is why the government takes this to be a very important day and why officers should understand their responsibility and the confidence the government places on them in carrying out their various duties,” Dr Thabane said.
For his part, principal secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Tšeliso Lesenya, said the government is introducing a performance management system to close the service delivery gaps within the public service.
“Service delivery is not where we would like to see as we have challenges with regards to shortage of resources and training. When one does not have the right training, his output will be questionable,” Mr Lesenya said.
He however, lamented that there were public servants who do not respect their jobs.
“A public officer must understand that he or she is at work to deliver services to the people and improve their lives in the process. If they come without that kind of thinking, it means they are in the wrong place.”
On the progress made on the performance management system, which is expected to help assess performances of public service, Mr Lesenya said: “We have completed trainings with all government ministries where we taught them about the principles of performance contracts”.
“The performance contract has to be signed by principal secretaries. It details how the work flow from the highest officer to the lowest should be for optimum service delivery.
“I can also add that we have some ministries who have already submitted their performance contracts with some having also submitted progress reports to the government secretary, although progress is quite slow. We have resolved that monitoring and evaluation mechanism is necessary to take the project forward.”
Mr Lesenya said the part of the awareness included a dialogue with the private to share experiences on how to tackle corruption in the workplace, especially with a view that corruption has a negative impact on economic development of any country where it is left unchecked.
Civil servants who spoke to this paper at the celebrations expressed dismay over being blamed for poor service delivery of the public service while their superiors do not share the blame.
The public servants said one of the major challenges they face at work is receiving orders or directives to perform duties that are outside the scope of their duties.
They said this often leads to their failure to perform their official duties and they often find themselves in trouble with the with law enforcement authorities.
“In the end, when service delivery is poor, we are accused of underperformance yet nothing is done to determine why,” a civil servant who refused to be identified for fear of retribution said.
“When there are problems, subordinate servants are often the scapegoat and have to take the fall for the supervisor. So, we are saying this should come out and be known, so that it can be addressed accordingly.”
He added that the flighting of the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) sessions live on television has partly exposed the issue of public servants taking the fall for decisions made by their superiors.
He further said defying orders from superiors was difficult as it is classified as insubordination and can also lead to one facing victimisation at work.
Another public servant said despite numerous challenges they encounter at work, they suffer restrictions when they want to take industrial action.
“That is why you see officers’ associations largely remaining passive, because if you cannot stage a strike, how else are you going to get the attention of your employer about your plight in a manner that a strike does?” he said.