Mo­choboroane begs to dif­fer

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

THE chair­per­son of the Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee, Se­libe Mo­choboroane, has called on the gov­ern­ment to re­verse its de­ci­sion to in­clude leg­is­la­tors among Ba­sotho who will ben­e­fit from a new pol­icy to lease its ve­hi­cle fleet from lo­cals.

The for­mer Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing min­is­ter told the Le­sotho Times in a re­cent in­ter­view that the in­clu­sion of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in the scheme to lease 300 ve­hi­cles from lo­cals was a recipe for dis­as­ter as it would only serve to com­pro­mise the leg­is­la­tors and pre­vent them from ef­fec­tively ful­fill­ing their over­sight role over the ex­ec­u­tive.

Mr Mo­choboroane’s call comes just a week af­ter Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Moeketsi Ma­joro, an­nounced that the cabi­net had re­solved to lease 300 ve­hi­cles from Ba­sotho with im­me­di­ate ef­fect as it moves to en­sure that all its ve­hi­cle needs are pro­cured from lo­cals.

Dr Ma­joro dis­closed this at a re­cent press con­fer­ence in Maseru which was also at­tended by cabi­net mem­bers, Ma­hali Phamotse (Gen­der and Youth, Sports and Re­cre­ation) and Sa­monyane Nt­sekele (Wa­ter) and Home Af­fairs Deputy Min­is­ter, Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe, who were tasked by cabi­net to over­see the gov­ern­ment’s fleet.

Dr Ma­joro said of the 300 ve­hi­cles, 150 would be pro­cured from taxi op­er­a­tors, 90 from the dis­tricts and con­stituen­cies, 20 from the dis­abled groups and 20 each from the youth and women’s groups.

He said those that were not in­cluded in the first pro­cure­ment like the leg­is­la­tors would be con­sid­ered in the next pro­cure­ment at the end of this year or early next year.

Dr Ma­joro how­ever, said that se­nior civil ser­vants from the po­si­tion of di­rec­tor up­wards would be ex­cluded from the scheme.

He said the de­ci­sion to in­clude the leg­is­la­tors in the scheme was made af­ter the re­al­i­sa­tion that de­spite all the ben­e­fits the leg­is­la­tors en­joyed, they were bur­dened with huge fi­nan­cial tasks in their con­stituen­cies.

How­ever, Mr Mo­choboroane said while gov­ern­ment had taken a pos­i­tive move to up­lift the lives of dif­fer­ent sec­tions of Ba­sotho, par­lia­men­tar­i­ans should have been left out of the ve­hi­cle scheme.

“I was also im­pressed by the de­ci­sion by the gov­ern­ment to pro­hibit cer­tain cat­e­gories of civil ser­vants from leas­ing their ve­hi­cles to gov­ern­ment as this would be a con­flict of in­ter­est,” Mr Mo­choboroane said.

“How­ever, I strongly feel that gov­ern­ment il­lad­vised it­self when it in­cluded par­lia­men­tar­i­ans who are back­benchers in this scheme be­cause the same con­flict of in­ter­est rule ap­plies to par­lia­men­tar­i­ans.

“Par­lia­ment will be com­pro­mised. It will not be able to play its over­sight role as ef­fec­tively as it should and we will be re­peat­ing mis­takes of the past by do­ing this.”

He said there was a prece­dent where par­lia­ment failed to de­mand pay­ment from leg­is­la­tors and min­is­ters who de­faulted on their loan re­pay­ments af­ter pur­chas­ing trac­tors from Ger­many un­der a gov­ern­ment loan scheme in what was known as the Block Farm­ing Scheme of 2008.

He said soon af­ter that a PAC re­port un­der the then chair­per­son, Moeketse Malebo, was tabled be­fore par­lia­ment but even today, “No one is say­ing any­thing about that re­port be­cause some leg­is­la­tors and min­is­ters were in­volved and that com­prised the leg­is­la­tors’ over­sight func­tion over the ex­ec­u­tive”.

“Par­lia­ment failed to scru­ti­nise that re­port. As a PAC chair­per­son look­ing at a pre­vi­ous damn­ing PAC re­port be­fore, I can’t af­ford to keep quiet when gov­ern­ment is mak­ing the same mis­take it did years ago and it would be un­for­tu­nate if this is al­lowed to go ahead.”

The leg­is­la­tors earn salaries up to M469 884 in salaries per an­num and M150 in daily sit­ting al­lowances. They are also en­ti­tled to M500 000 in in­ter­est-free loans.

Dr Ma­joro had how­ever, ar­gued that their salaries and al­lowances were not enough in view of the work they had to do in the ser­vice of their con­stituen­cies.

His sen­ti­ments were echoed by Mr Nt­sekele who said that, “Mostly their ben­e­fits are spent on ad­dress­ing dif­fer­ent con­stituency needs and they need to be met half way in or­der to carry out their du­ties as par­lia­men­tar­i­ans well”.

Gen­der and Youth, Sports and Re­cre­ation Min­is­ter, Ma­hali Phamotse, also de­fended the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to in­clude leg­is­la­tors in the ve­hi­cle scheme, say­ing it was not a po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion but one ar­rived at af­ter con­sid­er­ing the work they had to do in their con­stituen­cies.

“If it was a po­lit­i­cal is­sue, we would have said only leg­is­la­tors of the par­ties in gov­ern­ment should lease ve­hi­cles to gov­ern­ment but we are say­ing all par­lia­men­tar­i­ans not serv­ing as min­is­ters are given the op­por­tu­nity to leave ve­hi­cles,” she said.

PUB­LIC Ac­counts Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Se­libe Mo­choboroane.

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