THE Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses (DCEO) has an opportunity to intensify its fight against corruption given that the government increased its budgetary allocation for the agency.
According to DCEO Director-General, Borotho Matsoso, the declaration of assets by some cabinet ministers was another notable measure in efforts to stem corruption.
Mr Matsoso said this while addressing an annual anti-corruption symposium held in Maseru by the DCEO with two other law enforcement agencies, namely Lesotho Mounted Police Service and Lesotho Revenue Authority.
The symposium was held with the financial support of the United Nations Development Programme, and attended by former head of Kenya’s anti-corruption agency, Professor Patrick Lumumba.
Mr Matsoso said the government increased the DCEO’s budgetary allocation for the 2017/18 financial year by nearly 40 percent to ensure it had “more teeth”.
He stated that the DCEO and other law enforcement agencies had an opportunity to intensify their fight against corruption because of the government’s initiatives.
“This symposium is a good window of opportunity to seriously commit to fighting corruption because the present government has not only shown, but it has undertaken some positive measures against corruption, more so because anti-corruption has been their trump-card while campaigning for election into office,” the DCEO boss said.
“You are all aware that the budget allocation for fighting corruption and other forms of crime has been increased quite significantly, with government still committing to do more, thus increasing the capacity of the law enforcement agency to deliver on their mandate to enforce the law against corruption and crime in general, including tax evasion.”
Mr Matsoso said a number of ministers had declared their assets, adding that he expected the rest to follow suit.
“We will all remember that it has taken us well over 10 years as a country to implement this statutory requirement (of ministers declaring assets) since the law was passed by Parliament in 2006.
“This move has gone a long way in giving our people greater confidence in government’s commitment to prevent and combat corruption, not to mention appreciation from the international community that Lesotho is going in the right direction.”
He continued: “It is such efforts, that we strongly feel need the support of all the people for the good of the country. Let us seize this opportunity, therefore, as the 2017 Anti-Corruption Symposium, to define, as objectively as possible, what specific anti-corruption measures we are going to commit to.
“The idea is not so much to dictate to the terms to anybody but for us to say as business, civil society, as the judiciary, as the legislature. And as the public sector, what specific role are we going to play in the fight against corruption.”
He indicated that the political instability of the past few years had created a fertile breeding ground for corruption to thrive. Corruption, noted Mr Matsoso, remained the country’s main obstacle to development, peace and security.
“Most sadly, this instability has not gone alone but it has cost the country lives including those of two army commanders. The same instability has seen some leaders flee the country.
“For SADC (Southern African Development Community) to have had to intervene, even militarily, in our national affairs, it is a clear indication of how serious our political conflict has become.
“Unfortunately, it is in situations of internal conflict and political instability where corruption increases its prevalence since the rule of law gets compromised. Clearly without the rule of law, all other principles of good governance get lost thus depriving the country of development, peace and security.”
For his part, Public Service Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane said the government was also addressing the challenge of ghost workers in the civil service.
He said the government was “embarrassed” by the ongoing corruption in the public procurement system.
“Apparently, our public service has contributed a lot in painting this bleak picture as observed by the Afrobarometer survey on institutional standing. Police, business executives, government officials and tax officials top the list of the most corrupt sectors of society in Africa,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.
“Surely, this situation cannot be allowed to prevail unabated. This is why my ministry is all out to effectively address the ghost worker probe within the public service, among others.”
He added: “But we are extremely embarrassed by the public procurement corruption mainly because since it involves thousands, and millions of Maloti. This is why government is doing its best to capacitate the DCEO as the main anti-corruption agency of the country.”