Why MPS re­turned to parly

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

The op­po­si­tion al­liance says it has de­cided to re­turn to par­lia­ment “to work for the com­mon good of our peo­ple”.

The leg­is­la­tors turned up in the Au­gust house when it re­con­vened on Mon­day af­ter walk­ing out on 9 Fe­bru­ary in sol­i­dar­ity with four All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) mem­bers who had just been sus­pended for dis­rupt­ing the Speaker.

The MPS, from the ABC, Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL), vowed never to re­turn un­til their con­cerns had been ad­dressed, top among them the safe re­turn of their lead­ers who fled to South Africa in May last year.

ABC leader and for­mer prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane and RCL leader Keketso Ran­tšo sought refuge in South Africa af­ter claim­ing their lives were in dan­ger.

Govern­ment and the op­po­si­tion lead­er­ship have since met to dis­cuss the lead­ers’ re­turn and would be con­tin­u­ing with the talks which are also be­ing at­tended by mem­bers of the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho.

On Mon­day, the ma­jor­ity of the 55 op­po­si­tion MPS were in par­lia­ment as the 2016/17 bud­get was be­ing dis­cussed.

The M17.423 bil­lion bud­get was pre­sented be­fore par­lia­ment on 19 Fe­bru­ary 2016 by Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Dr ‘Mam­phono Khaketla.

Ac­cord­ing to BNP spokesper­son Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe, the MPS had de­cided to end their boy­cott and help govern­ment meet dead­lines set by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) re­gard­ing Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi’s re­port. Jus­tice Phumaphi led a 10-mem- ber SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into Le­sotho’s se­cu­rity and political chal­lenges be­tween 31 Au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber 2015, and came up with rec­om­men­da­tions to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion.

“SADC has piled pres­sure on the govern­ment of Le­sotho and we need to work for the com­mon good of our peo­ple. We have to dis­cuss th­ese is­sues af­fect­ing our na­tion and we can only do this while we are in par­lia­ment. As the op­po­si­tion, we also have an obli­ga­tion to see to it that Le­sotho re­turns to nor­malcy,” said Mr Mo­fo­mobe.

“We are also in par­lia­ment to tell the Speaker to speed-up the re­turn of our lead­ers from ex­ile. She should see to it that their re­turn is fully fa­cil­i­tated in a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment.”

Seka­tle ap­peal to MPS Mean­while, the chair­per­son of Par­lia­ment’s Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee on the eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Clus­ter and Demo­cratic Congress MP for Lebakeng con­stituency, Se­mano Seka­tle on Mon­day called for com­mit­ment to na­tional de­vel­op­ment from all leg­is­la­tors.

Mr Seka­tle made this call when pre­sent­ing a con­sol­i­dated re­port of the bud­get be­fore the Au­gust house.

“It is high time that we in­dulge and talk about mat­ters which ad­dress the de­vel­op­ment of this coun­try and its econ­omy, and not th­ese petty is­sues we are al­ways en­gag­ing in,” Mr Seka­tle said.

“We are full of jokes, we are al- ways jok­ing in­stead of ad­dress­ing is­sues of na­tional im­por­tance. We all need to com­mit our­selves to be se­ri­ous, and the time to do so is now.”

Ac­cord­ing to the port­fo­lio’s com­mit­tee re­port, the coun­try’s political cli­mate had played a part in ham­per­ing eco­nomic growth.

“Since 1966, the political cli­mate has had a toxic ef­fect on so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Peace and sta­bil­ity con­tinue to be elu­sive,” reads part of the re­port.

“In 2014, the first coali­tion govern­ment col­lapsed within two years amidst much wran­gling, ac­com­pa­nied by threats to sus­pend par­lia­ment. Con­flicts and ten­sions within the se­cu­rity forces have po­larised the na­tion and body politic.

“De­spite the Fe­bru­ary 2015 elec­tions and smooth trans­fer of power to the new coali­tion govern­ment, political ten­sions con­tinue to es­ca­late. Lead­ers of op­po­si­tion par­ties fled the coun­try, mem­bers of par­lia­ment of the op­po­si­tion par­ties have since boy­cotted par­lia­ment in sym­pa­thy with their lead­ers and all th­ese con­tin­ued to af­fect the busi­ness and in­vest­ment cli­mate.”

Th­ese chal­lenges and de­vel­op­ment part­ners’ con­cerns are un­de­sir­able con­di­tions against which the 2016/17 bud­get was pre­pared, the re­port adds.

“Some de­vel­op­ment part­ners have openly ex­pressed con­cern and be­gun to ques­tion the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for their eco­nomic sup­port to Le­sotho,” states the re­port.

“The com­mit­tee ap­pre­ci­ates the chal­lenges and pres­sures, both in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally that the min­is­ter faces. It is also against this back­ground that the com­mit­tee sin­cerely ad­vises the govern­ment and this honourable house to act cau­tiously in this bud­get process.”

BNP spokesper­son Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe.

DC MP Se­mano Seka­tle.

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