Lack of funds puts embassies at a standstill

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By Keiso Mohloboli

Lesotho embassies and diplomatic missions have come to a standstill after the central government delayed to transmit funds for payment of rentals, salaries and other utilities, KDNews has learnt.

The affected diplomatic bodies include those in South Africa, India, Malaysia, Japan, China, Ethiopia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, USA – Washington DC, USA – New York, Ireland, Kuwait and United Kingdom.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations’ Principal Secretary, Lerotholi Pheko, the embassies still don’t have funds because of delay in approving their operational budget caused the regime change in May this year.

“There was change of government in May and the change occurred before approval of budget warrant for diplomatic missions abroad. However, foreign affairs ministry asked for advance budget warrant to address the delay of rent payments, salaries and other utilities which was only approved last week,” Pheko said.

He also said with follow-ups done to the government’s treasury, he hoped all embassies and high commissions would have received their budget by the end of this week.

Ambassadors and High Commissioners of Lesotho who anonymously spoke to KDNews said the embassies have not had any operational funds since June this year.

“This is a very disturbing issue because embassies’ staff are at loggerheads with ambassadors for their salaries because they have not been paid since end of June 2020.

“There is also too much pressure from local employees who don’t understand how the embassies are failing to pay them their salaries,” one of the ambassadors said.

Another diplomat said they have been overwhelmed by landlords who are owed two months’ rent for their offices and residential spaces.

“Delay in paying taxes in our host countries results in mounted penalties. It has been the most unbearable situation to be in because as representatives, we don’t want anything demeaning to our country.”

Another representative explained that to avoid humiliation, he ended up using his own personal money to pay up office rent with some hope that reimbursement would come in due time.

He said he was penniless so much that him and his family would run out of food and daily essentials.

“What I am left with in the house and my family would not sustain us for more than a week. The situation is bad and an unbearable state a human being can be in,” he said.

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