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Usual suspects back in the news

by Sunday Express
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In proof that some things really will never change, this week’s noisemakers have appeared on this column before. Without further ado we give you the unrepentant two . . .
Back in August, when it emerged that NUL students had not received their loans, we wrote in this column that this was a clear signal that the National Manpower Developmental Secretariat’s (NMDS) systems were not in order.
“Besides, the whole system would work better if the NMDS improved its checks and balances anyway,” we wrote at that time, referring to the cheating students’ debacle.
It appears now that the story of NUL students was only a tip of the iceberg and our statement could easily apply to the Secretariat’s entire operations.
Last week, it emerged that hundreds of Basotho students studying in South Africa are stranded after millions of maloti meant for their rentals mysteriously vanished.  The money, estimated to be over M10 million, was allegedly misappropriated by one Bothatha Mahlala who acts as a middleman between Basotho students and estate agents in South Africa.
Over 300 students at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein were affected, it was reported.
Elsewhere in this issue of the Sunday Express, it is reported that the NMDS only had a verbal contract with Mahlala.
It appears the NMDS is either stuck in the Stone Age as far as record-keeping and information systems go, or the institute is staffed by some highly incompetent individuals.
How else is it possible that a government institution in this day and age only has a verbal agreement for a contract worth millions of maloti, or for any contract for that matter?
The least the NMDS could have done is to write it on a piece of paper somewhere.
And where is the much-vaunted IFMIS when all this is happening?
Last time we checked Wikipedia defined a management information system (MIS) as a subset of the overall internal controls of a business covering the application of people, documents, technologies, and procedures by management accountants to solve business problems.
Surely IFMIS should be busy at work solving the evidently mounting problems at NMDS.
It is our suspicion that what has been reported so far is only a tip of the iceberg and some heads will roll at the NMDS when all this is over.
It is unfair to students and future generations that the education of so many is being jeopardised by the thick-headedness of so few.

Money Lenders
Speaking of contracts, from the day one starts earning a little money, one soon learns that this world is filled with merchants of fine print.
These are businesses and individuals who, when you give them your custom, will try and squeeze the last lisente out of your pocket through the fine print on their contracts.
Enter Lesotho’s money lenders and their court battle against civil servants.
The last time we wrote about the court fight between money lenders and civil servants, we said it was only further proof that when the poor borrow at high interest rates, they will only end up poorer.
We still stand by our assessment that civil servants borrowed without reading the fine print and now have their knickers caught in a twist.
However, this is not to justify businesses taking advantage of workers who are not conversant with the finer aspects of business contracts.
The money lenders got their come-uppance when the high court last month ordered them to stop deducting money from the aggrieved civil servants.
Once again, we believe this case will set a precedent for lenders and borrowers alike especially on matters of disclosure and moral hazard.

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