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Spies up in arms over delayed wage increases  

Pascalinah Kabi  

LESOTHO’s spies are up in arms because they will not be getting salary increments they had eagerly anticipated.

National Security Service (NSS) director, Pheello Ralenkoane, is said to have last Thursday told his spooks not to anticipate any salary increments after the government  decided to indefinitely defer a plan that would have seen the harmonisation of the salaries of all the personnel serving in the four security clusters;  army, police, correctional services and intelligence (NSS).

NSS officials had been particularly enthusiastic about the plan as it would have boosted their salaries said to have been last reviewed six years ago. The harmonisation would have seen the salaries of the spooks match those of their colleagues in the other three security clusters.

Sources in the know said the NSS staffers, who had been expecting salary adjustments with effect from 1 September 2019, were now very livid and unhappy about the latest developments.

The NSS staffers had scheduled a strike for 31 July 2019 but called it off after their bosses promised them their grievances would be resolved.  It was unclear, at the time of going to press last night, what their next course of action will be.

“We were promised that the government had set aside money for our salary adjustments and that such adjustments would start reflecting on our salaries effective 1 September 2019…,” said one spook on condition of anonymity because he does not have authority to speak to the press.

“We were surprised to learn last week that we were no longer getting the adjustments as promised…This is really depressing because we had hoped that we would get what’s due to us,” the source said, without explaining their next course of action.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s cabinet had made a last-minute decision to defer the harmonisation of the salary structure for the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), NSS, Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS). This after the harmonisation plan, which is explained in a cabinet savingram dated 9 August 2019, had sparked problems in the security cluster with the LDF complaining of having been sidelined in the entire process.

Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka had confirmed the decision to defer the exercise in a recent interview.

LDF commander Lt Gen Mojalefa Letsoela had in turn summoned all soldiers within Maseru to address them over the confusion and discontent the harmonization process had created within the army.

“The Cabinet resolved to defer the implementation of that (harmonised salary) structure so that it could advise itself on how to best handle this matter to ensure there is understanding among all stakeholders and not this confusion that it has caused,” Mr Mphaka said.

He said the harmonisation exercise was being implemented in good faith and Cabinet needed to ensure that its intentions were not clouded by confusion.

A senior government official, who did not want to be quoted on the matter, said the NSS officers would still get their salaries once issues to do with the harmonisation had been ironed out. The process had not been abandoned altogether, he emphasised.

Ministry of Defence Principal Secretary Bereng Makotoko, who is in responsible for the NSS, said he was not in a position to comment on the matter because “he was held up somewhere”.

Efforts to get a comment from Mr Ralenkoane were unsuccessful at the time of going to print as his mobile phone rang unanswered.

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