MASERU — The leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP), Thesele ’Maseribane, urged his party supporters working in the public service to be apolitical. ’Maseribane who is also the Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, told BNP supporters at a rally in Koro-Koro this past week that it is imperative for ministers to serve the people regardless of political party affiliation.
The issue of an apolitical public service has been contentious among the coalition’s government’s three leaders lately. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) recently clashed over allocation of diplomatic posts. The two parties, together with Maseribane’s BNP last year formed a coalition government after the May 26 2012 election failed to produce an outright winner.
“Ministers, make sure you work to address the needs of the people without regard of party politics,” ’Maseribane said, reminding his followers that they were not alone in government. “Nationalists (BNP) remember that we are not alone in government, so please work in harmony with our other partners ABC and LCD for the benefit of the entire nation,” he added.
The BNP has four ministers in the Tom Thabane-led tripartite coalition government. The ministers appointed to cabinet under the BNP banner are ’Maseribane as Sports Minister and Joang Molapo for Home Affairs and the deputy ministers of Home Affairs and Health ’Maralebitso Ralebitso and Nthabiseng Makoae respectively.
’Maseribane said for the past 17 years Basotho have not been receiving adequate service from its civil servants. “During the past 17 years, this country has not been efficiently serviced to address the needs of its people because of a politically inclined approach, so the onus is on you to give the people the services they are entitled to” he said.
The BNP leader urged public servants to desist from showing off their political party colours in the civil service saying that political neutrality is paramount to excellent civil service. ’Maseribane said public servants ought to abide by the public service precepts at all times because being partisan would mean that other people would be discriminated against on political grounds.
Lesotho civil service has for decades been marred by poor delivery of service because of a partisan culture in the public service. An April 2013 report by Rajen Prasad on Sustaining coalition Governments in Lesotho advised, among other recommendations, that the coalition government should “reposition the public service as a non-political entity responsible for the hiring and firing of senior public servants”.
Prassad, a New Zealand parliamentarian, is the Commonwealth’s Expert Adviser tasked by the multinational organisation’s secretary general to carry out an examination of how to support Lesotho’s coalition government to be workable. Prassad’s appointment followed a letter to the Commonwealth dated September 19 2012 in which the Government Secretary of Lesotho sought assistance from the Commonwealth Secretary General to strengthen dialogue between coalition partners and the functioning of the coalition government.
In another development, while singing his own praises, ’Maseribane said for the first time in its history, Lesotho was going to host 13 Southern African sporting nations in the 2013 under 20 Council of Southern Africa Football (Cosafa) cup to be staged from next month. “We have been having the sports ministry for past 17 years yet no such a thing has ever happened to our sports,” ’Maseribane said.