Village Health Workers from five districts have bemoaned the Ministry of Healthâ€™s failure to pay their salaries since March this year.
The health workers from Mokhotlong, Qachaâ€™s Nek, Botha-Bothe, Quthing and Thaba-Tseka were represented by the Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA) Secretary General Hlalefang Seoaholimo before the National Assemblyâ€™s Portfolio on Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday.
Seoaholimo indicated that the 2006 workers are concerned about the inconsistencies of time and amount.
According to his account, the discrepancy of salaries took place since 2018 when some 1 600 workers were not paid.
â€œAll these happened since 2018 when 1600 of Health Workers started not being paid and yet they continue working to-date,â€ Seoaholimo said addressing the committee.
â€œThose that receive payments are paid M400 which they get after a long time; the last time they got paid was in March this year. The Mafeteng workers were only paid during the second quarter of last year and they have not been paid until today. We are now in the 10th month and some people are still working without payments,â€ he said.
Seoaholimo detailed before the committee that the explanation they receive is that the ministry is still working on auditing the database of the health workers.
â€œMost of the time when they are supposed to be paid they are told about the updating of the workers database. We wonder what civil servants are doing at the ministry.
â€œWe are aware that the government of Lesotho accepted a request from the Minister of Health where he asked that the village health workers be paid M800 in the current financial year, but we can attest here that it hasnâ€™t happened, they are still getting M400. We have documentation that proves they have to be paid on a monthly basis but that has not happened,â€ he added.
Meanwhile, one of the health workersâ€™ representatives from Leribe Matumisang Thinyane, told the committee that the saga started in 2014, a year after she started working as a village health worker. She said that is the time when they rarely received payments.
â€œWe have complained that we are not being paid well as village health workers. I started working as a health worker since 2013, I started by being paid M300 once in 2014, in 2016 some were paid and others not, I don’t know why,â€ she said.
â€œThe supervisors received M 8000, some M5 000 while others M2500. In 2018 we got paid twice M1200. In 2019 we received M1200 and received M1000 in December.
â€œSome people were paid M4400 in Leribe this year in April, some were paid M800 and for some us nothing until now. It is our plea to the ministry to consider us gracefully. We are doing a very difficult job of saving peopleâ€™s lives and we love our job,â€ she explained.
She continued that, â€œWe just want to be paid consistently, it doesnâ€™t matter if we are getting M400, as long as it comes consistently. â€œWe donâ€™t know whether we are paid annually or quarterly. We depend on this money termed â€˜sesepaâ€™ (soap) as our only source of income
Meanwhile, Ministry of Healthâ€™s Workers Program Officer Paulina Mokoroane acknowledged that the workers have not been paid due to the inconsistency of the payments which she said stemmed from the alteration of lists.
â€œWe have a list of health workers coming from the clinics. The list that we received last year showed roughly 9 615 health workers working at the clinics in our database.
â€œWe heard that some of the health workers were not receiving their salaries. We decided to visit the clinics to do a data verification, but we didnâ€™t cover all the districts due to budget limitations. After verifying, we found that the number was now roughly about 11 300 exceeding the original number that we received from the clinics,â€ she said.
â€œThis is an indication that there was a problem in the list provided and this leads to whereby some people are not being paid.
â€œThere are 7 299 village health workers who are paid by the ministry, 2 058 paid by Global Fund and 1 019 workers are paid by Partners in Health,â€ she said.
She continued that, â€œThose who are paid by the ministry are receiving their payments although their list is ambiguous. In Berea I always receive complaints of unpaid workers; I have a database of all the clinics in the country. Bereaâ€™s database is unclear because some workers would be identified as ineffective and that says they are not participating in their work and failing to communicate with their bosses.
â€œWe know that when a worker does not report to work for three months, the clinic deletes such a person from the database and finds their replacement. That is the current problem in our database,â€ she said adding that the system includes the dead people and those above 70 years who are supposed to have been removed.
â€œI heard Seoaholimo saying that they were last paid in August and that is not true, the five districts paid by Global Fund have been paid up to September.
On the other hand, Finance Director of the ministry â€˜Molaoa Maqhama, stated that the payments for the Mafeteng-based health workers is being processed and will reflect in their accounts before the end of the week.