By Billy Ntaote
MASERU – The Ministry of Public Service is expecting all senior civil servants to have declared their assets and interests by 1 April as part of measures to curb corruption among government employees.
According to the Minister of Public Service, Dr Motloheloa Phooko, principal secretaries, directors and managers are being targeted in the initiative, which is eventually expected to include all civil servants.
Phooko further said the targeted employees had already been issued with forms, which they have to complete by the set deadline.
“It is mandatory for the public officers to fill the forms and declare their interests and assets before the cut-off date,” said Phooko this week.
The minister noted when the coalition government came to power after the 26 May 2012 general election, it put the declaration of assets by civil servants among its priorities.
“We are simply fulfilling that promise, which we believe will go a long way to curb corruption in the civil service.
“I have been working in consultation with the DCEO (Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences) and all other ministries on the implementation of this requirement.
“However, it has not been easy to convince stakeholders on the need to implement this law. Many people feel they will be exposing themselves and that criminals would know about their wealth but we feel this is a very good development towards crime-prevention,” Phooko said
Phooko also revealed the DCEO had reservations over the exercise, particularly regarding the ministry’s capacity to implement it effectively.
“The DCEO was concerned that government did not have the capacity to verify whether all the assets had been declared.
“But our position, as a Ministry, is that there is no need to verify the assets and interests. It is only when there is suspicion that such an official could be involved in corruption that the information would be used in a lifestyle-audit.”
Phooko further said he has since learnt from countries already implementing similar initiatives such as Rwanda, South Africa, Ireland, the United Kingdom, India and Bangladesh.
“In the long run, all public officers will be required to declare their assets and like I said, we are starting with the seniors as a pilot. It is important for public officers’ interests to be disclosed even if such information is kept confidential.”
However, the Director of Public Education on Crime Prevention in the DCEO, Litelu Ramokhoro, said the anticorruption agency was yet to finalise its consultations with the Ministry of Public Service on the issue.