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Health ministry embroiled in corruption

Business

Mohloai Mpesi

The Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) have been linked to job allocation and tender corruption allegations by the Acting Auditor General Monica Besetsa.

Besetsa indicated in her report on the Consolidated Financial Statements of the Government of Lesotho for the year ended March 31, 2019 that LMDA was connected to job allocation corruption after it was discovered that some employees were awarded vacancies fraudulently as recruitment policies were not followed which flagged discrepancies in the recruitment process.

“It was noted that LMDA was lacking behind in terms of combined assurance, as there was no audit committee, internal audit and risk management functions. However, evaluations of internal control system revealed that there were policies in place guiding human resources, financial and procurement process.

“LMDA was given a new mandate starting 2018 ending 2023, therefore had to recruit all staff members from January 2018 to carry out the new mandate from April 2018. The Recruitment and Selection Guidelines were developed to ensure the recruitment of high calibre staff,” she said.

“Internal job advertisements for all positions were published giving first priority to staff, which was already in the previous mandate to fill in the positions upon selection. An external advert for filling of the remaining vacant positions could be sourced from the market. Benchmark for pass in oral interview was set at 75% and above.

“Review of recruitment process revealed a lot of inconsistencies in decisions made, which could be translated into conflict of interest. There were incidents where recruitment policies and guidelines were not followed and that raised a concern on the validity of appointments of some officers,” she said.

She indicated that some of the candidates who passed the oral interview were not employed but a post was given to an unsuccessful competitor who only sat for a written assessment.  

“There was no evidence that one officer had gone for an interview as interview results in her file were for the position awarded to the other candidate.

“Another officer was successful during oral interview for the position applied for but was not awarded the position instead the position was awarded to an unsuccessful competing candidate who only sat for a written assessment.

“One officer scored 69.9% during a written assessment but was appointed to the position despite scoring below set pass mark of 75%.

“An officer was successful during oral interview. However, it appeared that the results were tampered with, as original marks could not be substantiated. The officer was not given the opportunity for written assessment, as was the case for other candidates who failed the oral interview,” she said.

While the report further unearths the tender sleazes carried out by the MoH which further was indicated as having sabotaged LMDA as their partner in relation to health facilities maintenance.

It was unveiled that the ministry robbed and incapacitated the Agency off the catering allocation as was mandated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) inked by both entities.  

“The Ministry of Health (MoH) has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with LMDA to establish a collaborative approach among the parties as the key government role players in ensuring achievement of the key objectives of the government in relation to the healthcare facilities maintenance in Lesotho.

“MoH agreed to work with LMDA to plan and provide guidance on the programme maintenance based on their strategy priorities and grant access to health care facilities at all times.

“On the contrary, it was noted that MoH obstructs LMDA’s mandate yet it is the main role player in provision of health services, as indicated in the following instances; it was discovered that LMDA planned to roll out catering services for Quthing, Qacha’s Nek, Thaba-Tseka and Mokhotlong districts.”

Besetsa’s report indicates that, “During the procurement process, before awarding of contracts, there was an instruction from MoH to eliminate Machabeng hospital, in Qacha’s Nek under Lot 7, stating that MoH has already engaged a service provider,” Besetsa said.

“LMDA completed procurement process of engaging caters for Mokhotlong hospital and St. Peter health clinic under Lot 4. It was recommended that the contract be awarded to Ken Con Catering but was withdrawn due to court order following a concern by Rhythm and Blues Catering that they had signed a catering contract with MoH for the same,” she said.

In the same story, it is reported that the Agency has an Outstanding Advance of M1.98 million which according to Besetsa, it is “doubtful” if the funds will ever be recuperated given the lengthy period that they had been outstanding.

“There was an outstanding advance to the amount of M1, 983, 252.14 to Trencon Liquidators. Funds were advanced to Trencon Liquidators in two trenches i.e. M1, 500, 000.00 in 2013 and M482, 552.15 in 2015.

“This advance was still outstanding in October 2019 with no evidence that there are any measures put in place for recovery for those funds. It is doubtful if these funds will ever be recovered given a long time that they have been outstanding,” she said. “It was recommended that management see to it that by end of 2019/2020 financial year funds that were advanced to Telecon Liquidators should be recovered in full,” she said. 

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