The Office of the Auditor General celebrated the main event to mark 50 years of its existence in Maseru, Lesotho on 7th September 2013.The event was characterized by speeches from local and international speakers, dinner and entertainment.
The event became a moment of reflection and soul searching, this notion emerged from almost all speakers as they expressed concern about the country's chronic failure to have timely audit reports while continuously struggling with corruption, fraud, lack of accountability and mismanagement of public funds.
The Auditor General, Mrs. Limakatso Lucy Liphafa said that for the first 11 years after the establishment of the Auditor General's office in 1963, the country enjoyed timely audit reports with unqualified opinions, but the years that followed were troubled times of downright theft, corruption and complete failure to submit public accounts on time and the opinion on those accounts has always been a disclaimer to date.
Mrs Liphafa added that despite the government reforms with accounting systems in place to address the situation, the situation was the same with delayed submission of annual accounts. This ,She said, restrained her office from performing its duties which include auditing the finances and activities of the government and eliminating waste wherever possible.
She indicated that her office managed to promote public accountability through regular inspections of ministries and departments including diplomatic missions although the audit of missions was not done regularly due to financial constraints.
She went on to acknowledge technical support aimed at empowering the Office of the Auditor General by a number of development partners such as Swedish National Audit Office (SNAO), the Irish Government, the National Audit Office of United Kingdom ,the People's Republic of China and the Indian Government.
The President of the International Organization for the Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), who was also the Auditor General of South Africa, Mr. Terence Nombembe said the Lesotho's case was frightening and sounded like a cry for help. He indicated that his organization was available for support and assistance.
He added that the messages delivered by Lesotho's Auditor General reflected the desire for the country to restore the image of the office and also the need to have dialogue on issues of concern so that some good can come out of the situation.
One of the issues that came strong during the speeches was the call for autonomy of the Office of the Auditor General. In response, both the Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Mothetjoa Metsing and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Leketekete Ketso reasured the audience of government's commitment to ensure that OAG gets its independence most probably by April, the following year.
They both recognised the importance of the Office of the Auditor General noting that the government was putting in place measures to strengthen it. Dr. Ketso cited the new Draft Audit Bill (that is in process) which would serve to strengthen the independence of the OAG.
The OAG choir entertained the invitees with the vibrant songs and dances. A Jazz band and Sesotho group made the evening a very enjoyable one. After official speeches, guests were invited to dance to the melodious music by DJ Tseko, oh what a night!
The Celebration of 50 years of audit service was first celebrated at Ha Potsane, in the Mohale's Hoek district on 24th May 2013. 1000 forest trees were planted and the public was sensitized on the role of the Office. The theme of the presentation was enabling the public to take government to account on policies that they promised to implement once they are elected into government.
On 26th July 2013, the Office visited an orphanage called Matholeng Safe House in Mafeteng district where the Office and staff planted 50 fruit trees, presented food parcels, toiletry, some clothes and blankets to the beneficiaries of the home. This occasion was graced by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing, Honorable Temeki Tsolo, the Member of Parliament for Qalabane Constituency, Mr. Motlalentoa Letsosa, and representatives from the Ministry of Social Development based in the district, among others.
The Office of the Auditor General was established in April 1963 with the aim of promoting public accountability and transparency through providing professional auditing services to public entities and its stakeholders.