THE former Minister of Public Service, Motloheloa Phooko, has said the Lesotho Mounted Police were given a six percent salary increase budgeted for by the Minister of Finance to cater for inflation in line with a blanket increase given to all civil servants in 2015.
Disputing claims by the Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA), police officers of the ranks of Constable, Superintendent and Senior Superintendent did not receive increments, Dr Phooko said to the best of his knowledge as minister at the time, all police officers received salary increments.
Dr Phooko is also the Deputy leader of the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
“As far as I know, the police got the six percent salary increase, which was also given to all civil servants in 2015,” Dr Phooko said.
“All civil servants, including the police received the six percent salary increase budgeted for in parliament. This salary increase was then reviewed to benefit of all public servants.”
A few weeks ago, LEPOSA applied for permission to march and petition the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane over the salary increase which they claimed some police officers did not receive.
Police Spokesperson, Superintendent, Mpiti Mopeli, yesterday said permission for the procession had not yet been granted.
He confirmed there were salary concerns affecting certain ranks in the police.
“When the first salary increase was done, constables and superintendents did not get anything. It is not clear what could have happened,” Supt Mopeli said.
However, Dr Phooko insisted that police officers got their six percent budgetary increase and another salary review, both of which were implemented at the same period.
“They did not believe that we had increased the salaries of all the police officers and we did not understand where that was coming from because the six percent was a national budgetary entitlement for all the civil servants.”
Dr Phooko explained that after the budgetary increase announcement, they had requested the respective management of the Lesotho Correctional Service, the LMPS and the Lesotho Defence Force to make proposals for the salary review percentages based on the ranks.
“We wanted to implement a significant salary review because the salaries in the civil service had not been reviewed for more than 15 years. However, we also wanted uniformity, for example, if you are a director in one ministry your condition should not be different from that of a director in another ministry.
“But in the case of the security sector, we used a different approach. We said, we don’t know where to place each rank in line with the civil service grades, so can you give us an indication on what you would propose, which they did.
“We then computed how those ranks balanced, comparing with the grades in the civil service, meaning, for example, how does a director in a ministry compare with the ranks in the security sector. We worked that out and came up with an analysis we thought was fair,” Dr Phooko said.
He said following the exercise, they issued the salary review structure for the police, LCS and the army.
Dr Phooko further explained that just before the collapse of Dr Thabane’s coalition government, he (Dr Thabane) had to intervene to avert a crisis and instructed the Public Service to award the police the money they wanted.
“There was a lot of pressure from the police and eventually the Public Service gave them the money following Dr Thabane’s instruction.
“When I saw this in the media, I did not know which salary review the police were talking about because they were given what they had demanded in conformity to what the military were paying themselves, which was outside what we had instructed them to apply,” Dr Phooko said.