MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili yesterday called on the media to name and shame corrupt civil servants so that the public prosecutor can haul them to court.
He acknowledged that corruption is rife in Lesotho and called for concerted efforts to stop the practice.
Mosisili was speaking during the launch of the Business Action Against Corruption (BAAC), a public-private Commonwealth initiative to combat corruption.
The initiative was launched at Lesotho Sun Hotel yesterday.
“Corruption is rife and pervasive in our country. If all people were to say no to corruption, we would stop and uproot it. Let’s report public servants who solicit bribes in exchange for services,” Mosisili said.
“If an officer asks for a drink or lunch, tell them to stop dreaming. Seize them by the neck and take them to their superior.”
Some senior officials in Mosisili’s office have already been fired after a forensic audit unearthed their corrupt activities.
The officials were discovered to have helped companies connected to their relatives and friends to get contracts to supply goods and services to the prime minister’s office.
The companies were supplying the goods and services at insanely exorbitant prices.
During the launch yesterday Mosisili described the corrupt activities discovered in his office as shocking.
“It was shocking how a one litre of fruit juice could cost government over M70. That was absolutely unbelievable. Where on earth have you bought a one litre fruit juice for that much?” Mosisili quipped.
He noted that the officials nearly got away with it because they had made the tendering process look like fair competition by using bogus company names.
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He recommended that the business community should be invited to observe procurement panels in all government departments.
Speaking at the same occasion, Finance Minister Timothy Thahane said the forensic auditor was still looking for more corrupt officers.
“We are not coming for people who do their work transparently. We are looking for people who are cutting corners to do business. Business must work in a spirit of fair competition,” Thahane said.
He added that when the audits discovered some irregularities in the Prime Minister’s office heads had to roll.
Investigations would soon move to the other areas like old age pensions and the Lesotho Revenue Authority.
Fako Hakane, head of the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the businesses were paying bribes for government service providers because civil servants are reluctant to do their work.
“Business people end up buying and paying for services which they should be given for free,” Hakane said.
He added that business people should shun corruption by sticking to their ethics and following right procedures at all times.
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) director general, Leshele Thoahlane, said it was the role of every stakeholder to fight corruption.
“Lesotho’s situation can improve drastically if we all participate. The economy can stabilise and grow effectively,” Thoahlane said.