MPS have become Mpigs!
SCRUTATOR was intrigued by newspaper headlines last week suggesting that Ntate Mosisili had given up on his efforts to get Cyclone Tom back into the country.
“PM gives up on Thabane”, screamed one of the headlines. At a public rally, Ntate Mosisili had explained his frustrations at the failure, thus far, of his spirited efforts to get Cyclone Tom to end his self-imposed exile.
There are of course many reasons why Ntate Mosisili would want Bo-ntate Tom, Thesele ‘Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo to end their exile. The perception out there remains that the current Pink Pakalitha Coalition is a brutal regime hell bent on eliminating all forms of dissent.
There have been suggestions that Lesotho might as well be off the AGOA list this year because of all that has happened since Ntate Mosisili’s return to power.
The brutal murder of Maaparankoeeeeeeeeeeee remains an albatross around the neck of the seven party coalition. The opposition leaders continue to shout that Lesotho is an inhabitable place since Ntate Mosisili’s second coming.
Only the ending of ‘Maseribane, Rantšo and Thabane’s exile will change all the negative perceptions of Lesotho by outsiders. So it is easy to understand why Ntate Mosisili is particularly interested in ending Cyclone Tom’s exile.
Cyclone Tom is the main opposition leader having won half of all the contested seats in the 28 February 2015 general elections. If he comes home and he lives happily ever after with his young concubine in tow, then the deal is done.
Rantšo and ‘ Maseribane can marry in exile and produce half a dozen or even a full dozen kids and the world won’t notice. As long as Cyclone Tom is in SA, the Pink Pakalitha Coalition continues to suffer an image crisis.
I fully understand Ntate Mosisili’s logic. I symphathize with him wholeheartedly. Politics is about self-preservation. Ntate Mosisili must do everything he can to ensure his survival. I equally understand Cyclone Tom’s own reservations.
Ntate Thabane is certain that if he sets his feet on Lesotho’s soil anytime soon, King Kamoli will make mincemeat of him. “I would rather be a living coward than a dead hero,” seems to have become Cyclone Tom’s mantra.
There could also be other reasons why Cyclone Tom has elected to continue with his exile despite all the guarantees that Ntate Mosisili has given him.
Life could have become far much sweeter for him with a young concubine far away from the rough and tumble of politics. If that is the case, then Ntate Thabane owes it to all Basotho to explain this fact.
Ntate Thabane’s reason of fearing for his life is pretty understandable. One can never take King Kamoli for granted. But Scrutator also has immense difficulty understanding what benefits Ntate Thabane thinks his long exile will achieve.
There is that medieval wisdom that exhorts us to get out of the kitchen if we cannot stand the heat. Every man has a right to be fearful, but me thinks that Ntate Thabane should return and fight on home soil rather than leave his party on auto-pilot. For that, I share Ntate Mosisili’s frustration, albeit for different reasons.
If ever there were any lingering doubts about politicians sucking this nation dry, they were put to rest by this fiasco of gov- ernment coughing up M32 million to pay for the debt of members of the eighth Parliament.
Our Members of Parliament (MPS) live the charmed life, with M500 000 interest-free loans among other perks. Following the premature ending of their term of office late last year, after the collapse of the Cyclone Tom-led coalition government, the MPS demanded that government pay off their loans “for the sake of peace and stability in the country”.
According to a Lesotho Times story, of the 120 MPS, only Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Cyclone Tom did not take the loans. Yet there were many bigwigs in parliament who are already rich, although Scrutator will not name them, not for any fear of reprisals but just out of being a nice woman.
For the MPS, it was not enough that the loans were interest-free and that they were underwritten by government, which also paid the interest on their behalf. They also demanded a right, which they were not entitled to, of having the rest of the loan paid off by the already overburdened taxpayers.
They argued that they could find themselves in jobs that do not enable them to service the loans.
This argument is ludicrous considering that the Constitution is clear that parliament can be dissolved at any time. MPS have no five-year contracts and, like ambassadors, can be recalled at any time.
As if that is not shocking enough, government has again guaranteed new M500 000 interest-free loans taken by members of the current Ninth Parliament from a local bank. At this rate, we are making millionaires of these MPS, since a number of them were reelected during the 28 February 2015 elections.
The question then becomes if the current coalition government also collapses, will government pay the loan again for the current parliament. And at what price to this already emaciated economy?
Scrutator cannot agree more with the sentiments of Basotho National Party deputy leader Joang Molapo ahead of the closing of parliament last year as quoted by Public Eye. Molapo argued that legislators cannot expect to be given special privileges that were not extended to ordinary people.
”If we are leaders of this country and understand that it is right or wrong to take disciplinary measures against members of the public service, we must also be ready to accept that the same measures should be taken on us,” he said.
“We came to this House with a clear understanding that this parliament would survive for five years, as expected. We came out and took loans and all other things but if through our actions we caused this parliament not to live its full life, the insinuation of being given a parachute of public money for our soft landing is wrong. We must be accountable for our own actions.”
Molapo stressed that each MP who had taken a loan must also be accountable for its servicing, adding: “Instead of adhering to His Majesty’s speech to find out how we could use this very limited time left to develop our country we dwell on individual loans.”
He added that every legislator should be responsible for the loans they took from the bank. Those pleas certainly fell on deaf ears.
As if to underscore the MPS’ determination to fleece hapless taxpayers, leader of Basotho Batho Democratic Party (BBDP), Jeremane Ramathebane is also quoted saying: “I am here for work and when I go back to Mohale’s Hoek, I should be able to give sweets to my children so that they become patriotic and not hate politics.”
Ntate Ramathebane should find himself another line of work which is not the public service. Lesotho can ill-afford pampering politicians.
No wonder the Kenyans call their MPS “Mpigs”. In 2013, the Kenyans would have none of their legislators demands for a monthly salary of about $10 000 (M142 978), with protestors releasing three dozen pigs and animal blood spilt at the entrance to Kenya’s parliament.
“Mpigs” was painted on all of the pigs, with Kenyan police scurrying after the animals, while other small pigs munched on parliamentary flower beds.
“Don’t like the pay? Quit!” one of the protestors placards read. It certainly applies in Kenya as in Lesotho.
It’s a pity that good politicians like Molapo never make it to State House. I am sure if Molapo were to become Prime Minister one day, he would do the honourable thing and abolish the MPS loan facility and other perks altogether.
After all, most of these MPS are lazy bones whose only contribution is to snore in Parliament. We certainly can do without them or their lavish perks.
PROTESTORS douse pigs in blood during a demonstration outside parliament in Nairobi, Kenya in this 2013 file picture.