MASERU — The Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) wants government ministers and MPs to be paid equal pay.
LPC president Kelebone Maope made the remarks while addressing the party’s annual general conference on Saturday night.
Maope said the government had for a very long time not shown any interest in saving money by hiring too many bureaucrats.
This practice had burdened taxpayers, he said.
“The number of rulers is too large and they are lucratively paid when compared to other sectors of society,” Maope said.
“We need to think how we can reduce this huge number of bureaucrats so that lots of money channelled to their salaries could be redirected to the development of the people.”
The LPC also wants that the number of ministers and other government top officials reduced.
Maope said government ministers could only surpass MPs in terms of their benefits.
Maope said the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), which ruled between 1993 and late 1997, had made a decision to ensure salaries for MPs and ministers were the same. He said under the LCD-led government public money is being wasted.
“Perhaps we congress members of today should revisit that decision (of BCP to equal MPs and ministers’ wages),” Maope said.
He said the government appears not to understand the problems the nation inherited from the colonial and apartheid eras.
“This is surprising because rulers in South Africa immediately after their independence realised this and set about putting in place what is called restructuring and national development policy to undo the apartheid damage and better the lives of victims of oppression,” he said.
“Lesotho like South Africa is a victim of apartheid.”
The LPC leader said the Lesotho government did not have a plan to rescue the majority of its people from abject poverty.
“All they busy themselves with is corruption and theft in what they termed block farming,” Maope said.
Corruption remained deep-rooted in government to the extent that even the Prime Minister’s office was affected.
He said this was the reason why the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences is probing the office.
“The rot is out of control to an extent that it is being stopped by the Americans, which is a sign that the authorities here tolerate it,” he said.
“The Americans through their programme Millennium Challenge Authority have just prevented corruption in the procurement of identity documents.”
“Bribery rules in this government,” Maope said.
The LPC conference supported Maope’s call that MPs and ministers should get equal pay.
The conference also resolved that MPs, ministers and all senior government officials should declare their assets before accepting their posts.
It was also decided that the party should work towards strengthening the Ombudsman’s office in an effort to monitor the government.
The Ombudsman’s duty is to receive and investigate complaints against government ministries, parastatals and civil servants.
LPC secretary general Moipone Piet told the delegates that the opposition party failed to implement last year’s resolutions because of financial constraints.
Piet said even the resolution to raise funds by holding small business clubs called stokvels flopped because only a few constituencies showed interest.
Finance Minister Timothy Thahane last night scoffed at Maope’s suggestion.
“Cutting a minister’s salary to equal the MPs will not have any economic impact,” Thahane said.
“How much do you find when you cut salaries of 18 ministers to equal the salaries of members of parliament? Can you say that will bring any economic change?” he said.
A Member of Parliament is paid an average of M252 000 per annum while a minister gets about M352 000.
There are 18 ministers and their collective annual salary is about M6.3 million annually, excluding benefits and allowances.