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Dismissals cost govt M15m

 

IMG_7934Premier warns more civil servants will be sacked to ensure the ‘right people’ are in critical state institutions.

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Mohale’s Hoek

PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili says the “massive shakeup” in the public service, which he revealed had already cost the taxpayer M15 million, would continue until government has appointed “the right people” in critical state institutions.

Dr Mosisili made the remarks on Friday during a public gathering held at Pitso Ground in Mohale’s Hoek. The prime minister (PM) is touring the country’s 10 provinces to introduce members of his coalition government to the people and articulate the alliance’s vision.

The PM’s entourage included leaders of the seven parties constituting government, ministers and other senior government officials.

According to Dr Mosisili, the gatherings were meant to bring government “closer to the people”, adding it was the ministers’ role to listen to the concerns of the populace.

“Although it was difficult, we have tried to make sure each of the 10 districts in Lesotho is represented in cabinet by a minister,” he said.

“The ministers should address your problems from right where you are. If they cannot address your problems there, they will bring them before cabinet. However, they should be easily reachable.

“This does not only apply to ministers, but also to Members of Parliament (MPs) in your areas because they should also be working collaboratively with the ministers. You should feel free to bring your issues before them.”

Dr Mosisili said the coalition was working hard to establish a “solid” administration, hence its decision to dismiss some senior government officials, among them principal secretaries (PSs) appointed during the “old regime” led by Thomas Thabane, whose tenure ended after the 28 February 2015 snap elections.

“Establishing a solid government is not an easy task. Even as we speak, we are not yet done forming a proper government,” Dr Mosisili said.

“However, I should tell you that we are about to finalise appointments for new principal secretaries, including the government secretary.

“You must have noticed a large number of the PSs introduced before you today are just acting. We have now requested the Public Service Commission to fill those positions.”

Dr Mosisili further said government had taken its time in effecting the dismissals to ensure they were done in an “amicable and respectable manner”. The premier added they had come up with a new policy obliging senior civil servants to automatically vacate office at the expiry of their government’s tenure.

“This is meant to ensure there are no delays in the formation of a new government, such as what happened with us. The dismissals are being done within the confines of the law and in a way that does not violate the rights of those people we are replacing,” Dr Mosisili said.

“Moreover, it is very expensive for the new government to undertake all the dismissals and appointments at the same time. Because the money used in the process is public, I am not ashamed to announce that we have spent almost M15 million for this exercise.

“It is obvious that when governments change, the same should apply to senior government officials especially those who are appointed politically. That is not a shameful exercise at all because the expectation is that the minister and his PS should complement each other in performing their tasks.

“They should be partners in the real sense so that they can advance the government’s strategies successfully. This is acceptable throughout the world.”

Dr Mosisili said the recall of diplomats from abroad was also still ongoing, with new appointments soon to follow. Government has so far recalled eight diplomats from South Africa, Malaysia, India, United Kingdom, Italy and Switzerland. The ambassadors and consul-generals were told to wind-up their business and report at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Headquarters on 9 November 2015.

“We are also going to shake-up personnel at the embassies. These are steps in forming a solid government,” he said.

“In the process, we are also not going to leave out the DAs (District Administrators) because they are also political appointees. However, it is our intention to do this in an amicable and the right way.

“We want to put people we can really trust in those positions so that they can drive the policies of the government of the day. This should sink in your minds that when governments change, the same should apply for senior officials.”

Dr Mosisili said despite “predictions” by pessimists, the coalition government was “here to stay”.

“This is a very stable government and we will remain operational and advancing the needs of this nation during our five-year term. I am saying this because there are allegations that there is political instability in Lesotho, with some people claiming that this government would collapse within the first three months of its formation,” he said.

“Look now! We are in the sixth month without the so-called collapse. We will be here for a term of five years, if not beyond. You better make peace with that. I urge Basotho to settle down and do away with any lingering fears that this government might collapse.”

The premier said some public servants were not exerting themselves, believing  another government was in the offing.

“I hear that some people have reserved their efforts under the pretext that there is a government-in-waiting somewhere. That is not the case. Your government is already here, so you better pull up your socks to advance its policies without any delay or reservations,” Dr Mosisili said.

“That being said, I have to admit that there are grave challenges before us. We have an important document (Coalition Agreement) which is the fundamental tool for this government. That document explains in clear terms, areas that we consider as serious challenges for the nation. We seriously call for all nationals to join the government in the effort to address the challenges and ensure Lesotho becomes a better place.”

Lesotho, Dr Mosisili added, needs to consider “reshaping itself” as the nation celebrates 50 years of independence next month.

“It is time that we look back and see where we went wrong and start fixing things. I therefore invite all to partake in reviewing our constitution when that time comes, which is soon,” the premier said.

“All the stakeholders will be informed accordingly and a Constitutional Revenue Commission will be established thereafter. When that time comes, we will announce the ways in which the review processes will be undertaken because public opinion will be solicited in the process.”

He also addressed the “grave challenge” of food insecurity in the country, calling on farmers to increase production.

“Energy and Meteorology Minister Selibe Mochoboroane informed us earlier this week in cabinet that weather experts had predicted a dry cropping season. This is going to impact negatively on this year’s harvest,” said Dr Mosisili.

“We have to urgently come up with a plan. Experts have advised us to avoid digging deep under the surface when we plough. I have since noticed that even the Boers in the Free State province of South Africa, are using small planting equipment that does not go deep under the surface. We should also take their cue.

“Local farmers need to rise to the occasion because government has adopted a policy that by May next year, we would only buy agricultural produce for the school-feeding programme from Basotho.”

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