Opposition fume over govt bankruptcy

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

A COALITION of opposition political parties has threatened to write to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to warn the institutions against extending financial assistance to Lesotho due to the government’s misappropriation of funds.

The parties said this at a press conference in Maseru yesterday.

The comments come after Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro reportedly told cabinet recently that the government was broke and could fail to deliver on its obligations.

Apesi Ratšele, deputy spokesperson of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) said they were shocked to hear Dr Majoro saying the government is bankrupt.

“We are astonished by an announcement made by the minister of Majoro that the government is bankrupt when it has been allocated a budget of M13.2 billion for its administration,” said Mr Ratšele.

The parties also accused the First Lady, ’Maesaiah Thabane, of siphoning funds from the government through her ’Maesaiah Thabane Trust Fund by allegedly forcing finance its operations.

The parties also alleged that Dr Thabane’s wedding, ‘Maesaiah’ birthday parties have also been funded from public funds.

Ratšele accused Dr Thabane of abusing state funds through his foreign trips which they say have bloated entourages “including a poison tester”.

He said the government has also carelessly spent funds by paying two Lesotho Correctional Service Commissioners’ salaries since the LCS boss Matefo Makhalemele is reportedly still getting her salary.

“The addition of ministers in ministries like education which has three ministers is not just a swelling of the cabinet but it also comes with extra costs from the public coffers. The presence of the SADC forces in the country has also come with a cost.

“Now that the minister has announced that the government is bankrupt, it would be wise to demand answers on what really happened to the M3.5 billion reserved to maintain the parity between the Loti and the Rand because there has not been any infrastructure development.

“We want to know what happened to all the money which was not used by the ministries in the 2016/17 financial year. According to our estimates, there should still be at least M10 billion in the reserves for infrastructural development,” said Ratšele.

He said it was for these reasons that they have decided to write to the two financial institutions and block any loans that the government may apply for.

However, government spokesperson Nthakeng Selinyane dismissed the threats and said the IMF and the World Bank deal only with states and not political parties.

“Writing to the IMF and the World Bank a far-fetched idea by the opposition. It is as good as barking at the moon because those institutions do not deal with political parties, but instead deal with states.

“All that they can ever do is to influence ministers from powerful countries and not those financial bodies. They hardly know them, so they have no word what so ever,” Mr Selinyane said.

On the allegations that ‘Maesaiah siphoned funds from the government, Mr Selinyane said there was no way that the government could have flouted procurement procedures. Instead, Mr Selinyane said, the political; parties have an obligation to substantiate their allegations to the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).

“There is simply no way how the government could have flouted the procurement orders to fund the PM and his spouse’s birthday parties. They (the political parties) therefore have an obligation to substantiate their allegations with proof to overseeing bodies like the DCEO,” Mr Selinyane said.

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