The Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, ‘Mamonyane Bohloko has told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sitting this week that Lesotho deploys unqualified personnel to foreign missions.
Bohloko indicated that the process of deploying personnel to foreign missions is done politically where Principal Secretaries in the Foreign Affairs ministry have been receiving the lists of people to be deployed in foreign missions from the offices of the Government Secretary.
Bohloko was responding to the concern of the PAC that according to different audit reports, foreign missions have constantly failed to account.
“The committee has noted with concern the deployment of unqualified personnel to foreign missions, and as a result of this, the accountability of public funds is completely eroded. For example in some missions the position of Third secretary, which is meant for the accounting cadre personnel, is filled by unqualified personnel or none-accountant, therefore we recommend that the ministry must establish foreign service cadre and should be in line with foreign service regulations,” the PAC Chairman Selibe Mochoboroane MP said.
“On that issue, we find that the government of Lesotho is under the reform process and the issue can be included in the public service reforms.
“What is not an oversight to us is that when people are deployed, their qualifications are still looked into though it’s not a complete exercise, so you will find that servants appointed to missions have accounting skills,” Bohloko responded.
A member of the Committee, ‘Matšepo Ramakoae MP on the other hand asked the PS how much power she has on the appointment of the Third Secretaries, who in turn stressed that the list of people to be deployed is furnished by the Government Secretary.
“Sometimes the names come with the assurance that the person will be faithful to the government,” Bohloko explained.
Maneo Khali, the Ministry’s Human Resource Officer, clarified the issue of the positions of Third Secretary, saying that years back, people were deployed by the Accountant General, and further indicated that that has not been the case lately.
Another Committee member, Khaya Nyapane MP further sought clarification from the ministry, demanding to know if it ever approached the office of the Accountant General to put in practice the regulations for deployment of people in foreign missions.
Masuhla leteka, Chief Staff Protocol, told the committee that ever since he assumed his position, the ministry has tried to professionalise the deployment process to avoid the costs the country incurs because of people who do not have the reacquired skills.
He advised that the issue should be looked into so that the ministry deploys people who know what is expected of them to realise the country’ development expectations.
“Political appointees give us problems because they are on all levels. I would also advice the government to select positions that would be said to be strictly political,” according to another Committee member, ‘Mat’sepo Ramakoae MP.
Ramakoae further indicated that for the longest time they have advised that deployment of personnel to Lesotho foreign missions based on political affiliation be brought to a halt. “This has eroded our credibility internationally because all countries have career diplomats. It is either we deploy people from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, or anybody else sent there should undergo training first. Our diplomats do not even produce balanced accounts because they are not trained at all. They even fail to write reports. We want someone who can protect the government’s interests and sell the government’s foreign policy,” Ramakoae emphasised.