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MBABANE – Government has lost over E1 million paying salaries for officers who are sitting at home doing nothing.
This is according to the report of the Auditor General for the financial year ended March 31, 2017.

In the report, the auditor general raised concern that the Ministry of Home Affairs had paid an amount of E1 048 968.33 in respect of salaries to the employees who had been suspended since June 2014.
It stated that their cases had not been resolved since the said date and huge amounts, in the form of salaries, had been withdrawn from the public purse for undelivered services.

The officers related to the issue of two assistant immigration officers and a principal immigration officer, both who have their terms of suspension being with full pay pending investigation.
Another assistant immigration officer, who, however, was suspended on April 2017, has terms of suspension stipulating a half pay pending investigation.
According to the auditor general, the remuneration of an officer was based on the assumption that this while was at the disposal of government and that the

re was no information whether the suspended employees were remanded in custody or busy with their private dealings at the expense of public funds.

“I am also concerned that criminal proceedings against them have been delayed for more than two years now, and performance of government services is progressively becoming poor due to undelivered services,” the AG noted.
It was stated that the delay in criminal proceedings was against General Order A.910 (2) which stated that the judicial officer concerned with criminal proceedings against an officer should ensure that immediately the proceedings were completed, the head of department  concerned was informed of the outcome and that as soon as possible, certified copies of the case record sent.

“For employees that are remanded in custody, section 39 of the Employment Act of 1980 advises that an employer may suspend an employee without pay and reimburse him if he is subsequently acquitted of the charges,”  highlighted the AG.
According to the report, the AG was not aware of the action that had been taken by the ministry to ensure that the matter came to an end.

It further pointed out that it may be difficult for the ministry to recover the overpayments of salaries from the employees if they were found guilty of the offences committed leading to their services being terminated.
Another anomaly pointed out in the report was that of an officer who passed away on June 17, 2015 but had been paid a salary for a period of three months after his death notification.

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