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Pressure mounts on principal secretaries

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — Prime Minister Thomas Thabane wants Government Secretary Motlatsi Ramafole to deal with non-performing principal secretaries.
Highly placed sources told the Sunday Express this week that there are plans to put the principal secretaries and other senior civil servants on performance-based contracts.
The sources said Ramafole was given the task as part of Thabane’s coalition administration’s mission to have a total government make-over within the next 100 days.
One of the sources told this paper that Thabane expected Ramafole to have submitted results “within hundred days”.
“Ramafole has been instructed to evaluate in 100 days the output of each government ministry based on the performance of its principal secretary,” the source said.
The source said if principal secretaries “are found to be underperforming, they will then be told that their contracts will be terminated due to poor performance”.
“Most of the PSs had their contracts renewed in December so firing them for the sole purpose of realising a make-over would not be a good idea. Government realised that it has to be strategic about it,” the source said.
The source added that Ramafole had been tasked with submitting a report after the 100-day period evaluating the performance of each principal secretary and making recommendations on who should be allowed to go.
“The GS has been tasked with the responsibility because principal secretaries function under his office, hence he’s in a position to make informed decisions,” the source said.
Another source who is also close to the issue told this paper that the decision was prompted by complaints from supporters of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) coalition government, who are worried that if some senior officials who were aligned to the former government continue in their positions “the coalition government will not succeed”.
“People believe that the coalition government will not reach its goals and successfully implement its policies as long as principal secretaries are known supporters of the previous government,” the official said.
“In every government, principal secretaries are very important because they implement government policy. With those people still holding those positions, we can’t hope to succeed.”
The official added there was a feeling that the previous administration had succeeded in consolidating itself because even positions of departmental directors and most employees down to cleaners in all ministries “are supporters of the DC”.
“It’s something that resembles a pyramid structure and we need to demolish it. If we can get to the principal secretaries, then it will be easy to deal with the rest, but only those who resist change,” the official said.
“It should be clear that we’re not targeting every person who supports the DC, no. We’re simply saying regardless of their political affiliation, people should execute their duties well for the realisation of effective service delivery.”
“We will not get rid of them maliciously as other people make it out to be. We’re simply cleaning out our house because we promised to bring change and change we will bring.”
The source also said that two principal secretaries, whose names are known to this paper, have been fingered for corruption and that charges would be brought against them once investigations are completed.
“Two principal secretaries have been fingered for corruption and our case is bound to be watertight because investigations were already being carried by the Mosisili-led administration,” the source said.
Ramafole was not available for comment as he was said to have accompanied Thabane to an African Union heads of state summit in Ethiopia.
Several attempts to solicit a comment from government spokesperson and Communications Minister Ts’eliso Mokhosi proved futile as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Information director in Prime Minister’s Office, ’Malisebo ’Mokela, said she had not seen any such directive from Prime Minister Thabane.
“To the best of my knowledge, the Honourable Prime Minister or the cabinet has not issued any such written directive,” ’Mokela said.
“All cabinet decisions that are for public consumption come through my office.”

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