MASERU — For as long as there was a government in this country there has always been someone out to fleece it.
Here we give you 16 ways others are making a buck from the government.
1. If you are daring enough you can break into a government office and nick whatever you can.
But the problem with this method is that it carries a huge risk of being caught.
In any case, unless you know where valuable things are kept you might come out of the office empty-handed.
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying especially with the quality of investigators in our police service.
There is always a little chance that you might just pull it off without the police catching you.
It also pays to include the guards that man the government offices at night in the plan.
History though has shown those that break into government offices don’t come out with fortunes.
Instead of enjoying the little they get they normally end up in jail.
2. If you work in the government and you are tired of watching bosses looting through tender rigging you can still play your part in pillaging the government. There are lots of little government things you can take without anyone noticing.
When it is midmonth and groceries are running out at home you can simply pick a roll of tissue in the toilet and stuff it into your bag.
A roll of cheap tissue might cost only M3.50 but stealing one from the government makes sense all the same.
You can do the same with pens, notebooks and bond paper.
Chances are that your supervisors are too busy stealing bigger things to notice your little pilferage.
If you steal two tissue rolls every week by the end of the year you would have taken M364 from the government.
That might sound small but it’s not a bad amount if you are a cleaner who earns M1 200 per month.
It’s enough to buy those shoes you have always wanted or better still, 140kg of maize-meal to feed your family.
The pens and notebooks too can help you save on stationery for your children.
3. You don’t need to work in the office to be able to steal from government.
Even if you are a government driver you are well positioned to illegally benefit from state resources. That car you drive can help you make a little pocket money “if used properly”.
The next time a minister sends you to Bloemfontein you might as well pick up a few passengers along the way.
A trip from Maseru to Bloemfontein costs M40 on a normal taxi but you can beat the competition by charging M30 per passenger.
People are more than willing to pay less for a ride in a government Mercedes Benz or Toyota Fortuner.
If you pick up four passengers from Maseru you will get a handsome M120.
Do the same on your way back from Bloemfontein and you are M240 richer.
Cumulatively, you might earn more than your monthly salary if you do it consistently.
Just remember to drive carefully lest you have an accident that will kill or injure your unauthorised passengers and the government starts asking questions.
4. If turning the vehicle into a taxi sounds risky you can try using it to run your errands.
If the minister instructs you to go pick up a document in Teyateyaneng you might as well go as far as Maputsoe to see your relatives or friends.
You can do this in the comfort of knowing that the minister is too busy to check the mileage.
Because they are chauffeur-driven, they will never be on the driver’s seat to look at the mileage.
Any extra and illegal kilometre you drive in the government car saves you money.
Taxpayers will always pick up the tab, don’t they?
5. But if you really want to make some quick cash you simply have to drain that fuel tank, fill up your containers and start selling.
Those that have tried it say it’s a super quick way to make money.
Just remember not to overdo it because someone might become suspicious. It’s always advisable to steal as little as possible.
That way your crime is “sustainable” and “profitable”.
Ten litres of free diesel every week won’t change your life or get you a mansion but it will certainly bring in some extra cash.
We estimate that if you steal 10 litres of diesel every week for the whole year you would have fleeced government of M4 680.
If you work as a driver for 10 years and continue with this illegal deed you would have stolen M50 000 from the government.
That figure can,of cause, change because fuel prices are not stagnant.
It might actually be more because fuel is likely to get more expensive.
6. You need not be a government employee to steal from it.
If you are tired of doing odd jobs for little pay you can simply form a briefcase company and befriend procurement officials in the government.
Soon they will start throwing some small tenders your way.
Don’t be stingy because those procurement people don’t do anything for free.
You will obviously need to keep them happy with presents.
The moment you get tired of pampering them with gifts they will close the tender “taps” and your company will go bust.
7. You should not worry about where to get the money to pay the bribes to the procurement officers because the government will provide.
You simply factor in the bribes into the prices that you charge the government.
Those procurement officers will make sure that the government pays the full amount on time.
So don’t hesitate to charge the government M24 000 for a laptop that costs M4 000.
The profit margin has to be huge because you have to share the spoils with those that make the deals possible. The government pays for that corruption.
8. Those in senior positions in government know that with power comes a chance to steal.
If you are a boss, you simply have to get a friend or relative to form a briefcase company they will use to get small government tenders.
Such small tenders, usually below M30 000, don’t need to go through the tender panels.
All the official has to do is invite three companies to provide quotations and the deal is done.
Two of those three quotations don’t necessary have be genuine.
To rig the process perfectly the three quotations must come from companies controlled by your relative, friend or business partner.
That way you know there won’t be other companies to spoil the plan.
Because you are the boss in the department, you know specifically how much is supposed to be used on that particular project.
9. If you are afraid that other senior officials in the department might want a piece of the cake then you can form a syndicate.
That way you get to set the ground rules and decide who gets what tender and when.
The orders move faster and are paid quicker than normal. You must never double-cross your colleagues because they might start spilling the beans.
Also, never get caught.
Remember too that it is important to set clear parameters of who benefits from which tenders and when.
For instance, one will supply computer consumables while the other provides office furniture.
10. To get huge government tenders you need to have deep pockets. It costs real money and proper planning to rig lucrative tenders.
There are always people on the tender committees willing to get bribes.
If you treat such people well they will make you a millionaire in a few years.
They will provide you with information that will give you an advantage during the tendering process. Some of these people might demand huge “cuts” but that should not dishearten you because it’s all part of the business.
Simply inflate your prices so you get a fat profit and still pay your helpers.
Even when there is no tender issued you must always keep these people happy with gifts because someone might steal their loyalty.
They are the people who make things happen and they are always people willing to pay them more than you do.
In the end it is the little gifts you dish out before the big cheques that will make the difference. Once in a while take them out for lunch or fill their tank. And when they have a funeral contribute generously to the expenses.
They will never forget that you helped them out during difficult times. Still, any freebie that you can fling their way will help keep them closer to you.
11. Contractors, especially those that build roads for the government, know that it “doesn’t make business sense to do a proper job”.
A shoddy job can still ensure that you are paid the full contract value. There is no need to bother with the stringent and expensive specifications when you can still get paid well for a substandard road.
When the road gets washed away six months after construction you can still blame it on the weather elements like floods and storms.
Apart from nosy reporters and angry funders no one, including the cabinet, will question that explanation.
12. Politicians know that there is money to be made from government funded projects, especially those that seek to help poor communities. They can siphon a couple of thousands of Maloti by claiming that they are helping the poor. They also know that you can divert the funds to benefit relatives and friends.
13. There is also a chance for villagers to nick a few bucks from the government too. When your grandparent who is on that M300 state pension dies you simply don’t report their death to the government. That way you keep receiving your
grandparent’s pension for the next few years before someone picks it up.
14. If you feel the government is not paying you enough you can still use its offices, computers, faxes, phones and other resources to run your own business. The beauty about such businesses is that they don’t have huge overheads. The government pays the phone bill and office space.
Your role is just to report to work every morning and pretend that you are working for the government when you are actually running your own company. At the end of every month your government salary will be in your bank account.
15. Perhaps the most common way of stealing from the government is by dodging tax. You simply pocket what you are supposed to pay to the revenue authority. The law might catch up with you but rarely do tax dodgers get jailed. The simple logic is that if they jail you they will not be able to recover their monies.
They would rather keep you out of jail so that you raise enough to pay your tax obligations. The trick is to admit to as little tax dodging as possible when the law catches up with you and to hire a good lawyer to cobble up a favourable out-of-court settlement deal with the state. The state might grumble but in the end they are happy that you have at least agreed to pay something. They say if you owe someone M200 that’s your problem but if you owe someone M1 million then that’s
their problem. They must help you make a plan to settle that debt.
16. Police officers have long mastered the art of taking bribes from traffic offenders. Instead of making you pay a fine they would rather negotiate a deal for you to pay them so they let you free. They know they are stealing from the government.
The bribers know that they are aiding and abating the looting of government resources.
NB: We are aware that there are many other ways to swindle the government and corrupt people are forever looking for new ways to enrich themselves. Visit www.lestimes.com and tell us how you think money is being stolen in government.