OUTSPOKEN former health minister, Nyapane Kaya, yesterday dropped a bombshell in parliament when he told officials from Public Service ministry he was one of the thousands of ghost workers on the government payroll.
Mr Kaya's revelations come against the background of a meeting that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently held with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to discuss the country's bloated wage bill.
Mr Kaya was employed in the Ministry of Education and Training until 2015. The Education ministry has for several years failed to maintain human resource records, proper accounting and reconciliation systems resulting in a situation where millions out of its annual M1, 7 billion wage bill for teachers are spent paying ghost teachers.
Mr Kaya is the Mechachane legislator and he is also a PAC. He was appointed minister of health in the aftermath of the 3 June 2017 elections which ushered in Lesotho's third coalition comprising of the ABC, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki's Alliance of Democrats (AD), Communications Minister Thesele Maseribane's Basotho National Party (BNP), and Labour Minister Keke Rantšo's Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
Mr Kaya's tenure was short-lived after Dr Thabane relieved him of his duties in a cabinet reshuffle in February this year and replaced him with Mr Nkaku Kabi.
Prior to joining politics Mr Kaya, worked as principal at Khukhune High School until March 2015.
Despite his resignation from the Ministry of Education and Training in 2015, Mr Kaya yesterday said he was shocked to learn early this year that his name still appeared on the ministry's payroll along with that of Vuyali Tyhali, an official from the Lesotho consulate in the Gauteng province.
He said it was unfortunate that officials of the Education ministry were giving Minister Ntoi Rapapa false information regarding the issue of ghost workers within the ministry.
"Every time the minister (Prof Rapapa) issues official statements concerning ghost workers, I just feel sympathy for him because he is being misled by the civil servants," Mr Kaya said.
"I am a ghost worker in the ministry of education. In March 2015, I left the teaching service to join politics and despite the fact that I formally resigned as a teacher, I was shocked to learn early this year that my name and that of comrade Vuyali still appear on the payroll of the ministry of education and my pay slips are being printed each month since March 2015."
Mr Kaya however, said that although he was on the payroll, he was not receiving the salary as it was probably being paid to someone else.
On his part, PAC chairperson Selibe Mochoboroane said the IMF was deeply worried by the bloated wage bill. He said the PAC "would stop at nothing to ensure that the civil service was cleansed of ghost workers" who were draining the fiscus.
He said the IMF expressed its concerns during a closed meeting in which it pleaded with the parliamentary committee to assist the government to address the problem of the high wage bill.
"If there is anything that hurts me the most, it is the fact that even my own PAC member (Mr Kaya) appears on the list of ghost workers because the ghost workers are worsening the crisis of our bloated wage bill.
"Besides ghost workers, the IMF expressed concerns the wage bill was also increased by the hiring of a lot of civil servants who just sit and do nothing productive," Mr Mochoboroane said.
He said despite the high wage bill, the government continued to unnecessarily hire more workers.
He cited the example of the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation which recently hired a new driver despite having 24 other drivers.
He said only eight out of those 24 drivers were actually doing meaningful work.
"Ntate principal secretary (of Public Service, Tšeliso Lesenya) what are you doing to address this problem because we are in a crisis and we need a brave man who will take a bold decision to address this problem (of a high wage bill and unnecessary workers)?
"In all honesty, the politicians are responsible for the hiring of civil servants. I am a politician and politicians are causing this country a lot of headaches in that regard. As politicians, we are fully aware of this crisis and I am saying this because I was once in government," Mr Mochoboroane said.