When corruption becomes a way of life

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Thulo Hoeane

TO the everlasting and eternal shame of the seven party coalition of Pakalitha Mosisili this country – the Auditor General has revealed in a damning report –lost a staggering M450 million through the sheer pilfering of money earmarked for national scholarships. If it takes something in the region of M20,000 per year to fund one student it means in that unfortunate scheme of things some 22,500 potential National University of Lesotho students were denied an education in a country crying out for skills across the spectrum of our development obligations.

Graft was a way of life. Government accounts were simply criminally manipulated to disguise possible corruption and money laundering schemes. It was simply a criminals’ paradise. Government financial statements in one instance falsely reported that the government operated 468 bank accounts with various banks when in fact it operated 448 bank accounts. In the process an astounding amount of M200 million slithered through the fingers of corrupt officials to the prejudice of the national fiscus.

Remember the Bidvest debacle. The fleet management company that was corruptly offered work to manage government vehicles without a tender features prominently in this sleaze. When the going got tough for the seven party coalition and the Bidvest stink went viral the government had to beat a hasty and shameful retreat out of that deal and had to cough up millions to fund the abrupt termination.

That is the legacy of the Democratic Congress and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and their ‘not worth the paper they are written on’ partners. Whichever way you look at them the now disgraced seven party coalition is the author of the many crises that this country has to navigate through today.

Finance Minister Dr. Moeketsi Majoro faces a mammoth task ahead of him. The government is simply broke because its coffers have been sucked dry by a government insensitive to the plight of the ordinary man and woman in the street. To put it mildly this was a gangster regime that whistled in the dark and paid ‘cracked’ lip service to the agenda to develop this country.

Sources indicate the Mosisili coalition blew up M2.3 billion of reserves in just a period of about five months. The list goes on and on. Meanwhile ordinary people continue to wallow in abject poverty because there is no indication that the money will ever be recovered any time soon if ever.

But the real taste of the pudding is in the eating. Former Minister of Law and Constitutional affairs, Mootsi Lehata, ran a stunning M338k in hotel bills over eight long months. This all in contravention of known and stipulated financial regulations.      The seven party coalition forked out M261 million in five months from October 2015 to March 2016 to pay Bidvest. An amount that was paid for a whole year to Avis its predecessor.

Enough of the statistics. We now have to move forward to conduct a thorough forensic audit that will name and shame all the culprits involved in this rot. It is not enough merely to unravel in general terms the extent of this graft without getting to the bottom of it and nailing the criminal element behind all these shenanigans.

At the end of the day somebody must account fully for this grand larceny. The buck stops with those at the top. The executive. But not only must there be political accountability but criminal sanctions must be put in place for those deserving of punishment. Theft is theft. The scum bags must be exposed for who they really are in spite of their posturing as public servants.

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic offences (DCEO) has got its work cut out here. We cannot let people get away literally with murder. As we embark on the reforms we must also rope into that agenda the pursuit of all forms of criminality and wipe the slate clean.

And never again should we let this country fall into the hands of people who are nothing but a bunch of thieves. We deserve better and the people spoke out in one clear voice on June 3 2017.

Moving to another terrain it is interesting and rather shocking that some international legal organisations have come up with misplaced concerns that seek to portray the action being undertaken by the government to impeach the Chief Justice as amounting to interfering with the judiciary. Nothing could be more out of sync with the objectives of the government.

The government has no agenda to simply get rid of the Chief Justice merely for the sake of doing so. The ‘show cause why’ letter in her hands clearly and unequivocally calls on the Chief Justice to give reasons why she may not be impeached. Two things immediately come to the fore here. If she can convincingly show that she is not a deserving candidate for impeachment that will be end of the matter and she will continue to serve in that position. There is nothing personal involved here contrary to what some who are singing in her corner want us to believe.

If on the other hand the reasons she puts forward are found to be wanting then the inevitable will follow. A constitutional process will then be set in motion to remove her. The sole purpose being that we must all practice what we preach. We cannot have a situation where the government has certain reservations about somebody in such a senior position. The onus is on her to come clean. What is at stake here is the integrity of an institution and talk about a personal agenda are just a lot of hot air.

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