THE Ministry of Education and Training is battling to mobilise M54 million to pay gratuities it owes to 172 school principals that it engaged under the controversial Performance Contract in 2011.
This money was supposed to have been paid to the principals at the end of their five-year contracts in 2016. However, since then, the principals have been sent from pillar to post in an effort to get their gratuities which they expected as per the terms of their Performance Contract.
This type of contract was suspended in 2014 after the former seven parties’ coalition government realised that it would be costly to implement.
However, the Lesotho Principal Association (LEPSA), appealed for assistance from the Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka to push the Education ministry to honour their contractual obligations.
This comes after the principals withdrew their court case in 2017, when the new government came to power, in an effort to give them a chance to resolve the matter amicably.
LEPSA Public Relations Officer, Mathafeng Moteuli, said the decision to seek Mr Mphaka’s assistance was made after several meetings with the senior officials at the Ministry of Education as well as the Minister, Mokhele Moletsane, failed to yield results.
“The principals want to be paid their money, in line with their contracts. Apparently, it has become clear that the ministry is having challenges honouring its obligations. The principals submitted their proposal to the minister as per his request during one of the meetings. Minister Moletsane also promised to present the matter before Cabinet,” Mr Moteuli said.
He further explained that the once promising discussions went sour after the principals received information that the cabinet was not willing to pay the principals.
“The principals are not asking for pensions but the gratuities. We have sought the assistance of the Government Secretary,” he said.
Mr Mphaka referred the matter back to the Ministry of Education, saying the ministry was working on the issue after his communication with the Principal Secretary, Dr Thabiso Lebese.
“The principals are being impatient because there is no way they will not be given their money,” Mr Mphaka said, adding that, the Ministry of Education was working on raising the money.
“It is a lot of money but we need time to fix the turmoil left by the previous government, hence the need for them to exercise patience,” Mr Mphaka said.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Education, his deputy and the PS yesterday were fruitless.