Political instability unsettles civil service: Maliehe
THE political instability which has been manifested in the frequent changes in government has bred uncertainly within the civil service and poses a grave threat to Lesotho’s ability to meet its development goals, the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, Motlohi Maliehe has said.
The political instability has been characterised by, among other things, the three snap elections and the collapse of three governments in the space of five years from 2012 to 2017.
The last election in June 2017 ushered in the current four party coalition government comprising of Mr Maliehe’s All Basotho Convention, the Alliance of Democrats, the Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
The frequent changes of government have, according to Mr Maliehe, bred uncertainty among civil servants and negatively affected their performance.
He told the Sunday Express that the government will need to bite the bullet and take urgent steps to address the situation by among other things, conducting refresher courses to re-orient the civil servants.
Mr Maliehe said a highly efficient and professional civil service was key to achieving developmental objectives.
“In some ministries, we require heavy-duty mops to clean up the mess and create conditions that will allow us to go forward,” Mr Maliehe said.
We surely need to fix our systems through the reforms but we also desperately need a united and professional civil service for government to achieve its national development plans.”
He said had realised during his short stint at the Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation, that the changes of governments had seriously affected the attitude of many civil servants towards their work.
Mr Maliehe further said it was imperative for all civil servants to understand that they were professionals who should cooperate on professional grounds, with any minister who is appointed to the position.
“It is important that we deal with any uncertainty by some workers who may not be sure of what the future holds and have fears as to whether or not a minister will not side-line certain people.
“Politics should not be allowed to compromise quality of service delivery. If you are a civil servant, you should not sabotage the current government simply because you were appointed by the past government. If at all your appointment was proficiency-based, you do not all of sudden become unprofessional simply because there is a new government,” Mr Maliehe said.
He said as a politician, he wanted to work with a professional and competent team that delivered the results irrespective of their political affiliation.
“Dead wood will not be tolerated and this applies to everyone regardless of whether or not they are my own political party. In fact, I am blind when it comes to political colours because the government is for all Basotho.
“There is a huge difference between politicking at rallies and working as a minister because my work comes with huge responsibilities. I am only after results, I want positive change in this ministry and for the tourism sector to create jobs and significantly impact on the national economy.”
Some of Mr Maliehe’s key strategies, include working with the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) Board to accelerate development in the tourism sector.
“There are a lot of processes we need to undertake to push the tourism sector to another level. We want to resuscitate the government tourism facilities that are now white elephants due to many years of mismanagement and corrupt tendencies. I have set targets for the ministry to succeed and not to fail. Therefore I need competent people in strategic positions to help me drive the tourism sector,” Mr Maliehe said.
He said he was well aware of the high expectations among Basotho for the government to deliver on its promises to improve lives.
“It will be folly if we forget yesterday’s pain because of today’s wine and chicken. Citizens of this country have gone through a lot of pain and fear, therefore, they are hungry for political stability, peace and prosperity.”
Mr Maliehe said the new activity needs a robust team that will not seek to appease politicians but to help Basotho understand how their money was being utilised and on which programmes.
“When it comes to evaluation, we will recommend external and professional experts for transparent results that will help us to improve on our future performance as government,” he said.