Academic journal article Strategic Review for Southern Africa

Politicised Public Service and Corruption in Lesotho

Academic journal article Strategic Review for Southern Africa

Politicised Public Service and Corruption in Lesotho

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The corruption scourge mars nations across the world. The phenomenon has wreaked havoc in both developed and developing countries as it negatively affects social, political and economic growth. As a result, countries individually and collectively have developed and put into effect anti-corruption institutions. The definitions and types of corruption are as numerous as its causes and effects. The lack of a single definition and the copious causes and effects make corruption a slippery phenomenon that is difficult to understand and subsequently to arrest. The literature indicates that a politicised public service is one of the contributors and breeding ground for corruption. This is because the public servants are the lifeblood of any government as they are responsible for the day-to-day operations of governments. Essentially, they are the ones who engage in government transactions. The type of public service determines the effectiveness and efficiency of the government of the day and this is influenced by the calibre of employees that occupy public service positions in general and leadership positions in particular. The recruitment, promotion, dismissal and rewards procedures determine the calibre of the public servants. An efficient public service should be in line with the characteristics of bureaucracy as espoused by Max Weber. Weber's ideal bureaucracy is supposed to be merit-based and non-partisan. These features give the public a sense that the public service is neutral, independent and legitimate thereby securing public respect (Thabane 2017). Such a bureaucracy is essential for social stability (Thabane 2017). The ideal public service is one that is shielded from political control, as it is believed to be efficient and fair in dealing with citizens (Torstendahl 1991, in Peter and Pierre 2004: 2). A professional, impartial public service is essential to democracy and plays a crucial role in effective governance Podger 2002 in Reid 2012, 74 and Mulgan 1998).

However, Lesotho's public service has been labelled as unprofessional and politicised (GoL 2017) and this has a bearing on the servant's propensity to engage in corrupt activities. Lesotho scored 42 in the 2017 Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI). This is an indication that corruption is commonplace in Lesotho's public service. The instances of corruption range from grand to petty. The country has done fairly well in prosecuting the perpetrators of grand corruption with an example of the well-known corruption scandal in the Lesotho Highland Development Authority that involved the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Masupha Sole and international companies for corrupt awarding of tenders. Sole was found guilty of thirteen counts of bribery in which he received more than two million United States dollars. The court sentenced him to eighteen years in prison (Mekay 2006). Another case involved a Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr.Mosito Khethisa, who awarded a contract amounting to M18m to Civa Innovation to oversee the construction of wool and mohair shearing sheds across the country. The company belonged to his cousin. Khethisa pleaded quilty for awarding the contract without a Ministerial waiver. He also pleaded quilty for paying the company M6m for "work not done''. The company paid back the M6m and Khethisa lost his job (Wordpress 2016).

Petty corruption is also rampant in the country; it mostly involves police officers who solicit bribes from motorists. Being a developing country characterised by the slow growth of the private sector the Lesotho public service is the largest employer with its wage bill amounting to 19% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Rakotsoane 2018). The slow growth of the private sector and the high number of graduates from institutions of higher learning has resulted in high youth unemployment. Lesotho's unemployment rate was 29.2% in 2017 and the youth unemployment rate was 40% for ages 15-24 (The World Bank in The Global Economy 2018). …

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