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Metsing queries exiled MP salaries



Staff Reporter


DEPUTY Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing says the government is flouting the law by continuing to pay salaries to three opposition leaders who fled the country last year.

Metsing told the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) youth league elective conference on Saturday that the law stipulates that an MP who misses three consecutive months in Parliament automatically loses his salary.

The three leaders, the official leader of opposition Thomas Thabane of All Basotho Convention (ABC), Thesele ’Maseribane of Basotho National Party (BNP) and Keketso Rantšo from the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) skipped the country to South Africa in May last year claiming their lives were in danger.

Since then they have never set foot in parliament, where they work.

About two months ago, the ABC’s Qoaling MP Chalane Phori also fled the country saying his life was in danger.

Metsing however did not say whether the government is planning to stop the salary payments to the three leaders.

Government spokesperson, Communications Minister Khotso Letsatsi, told thepost yesterday that the matter had not been discussed at the Cabinet level.

“I did not listen to (Metsing)’s speech and therefore I cannot comment on it. However, I say we have not discussed this issue as government,” Letsatsi said.

The ABC deputy leader Tlali Khasu said as for the remuneration of Thabane as the former Prime Minister the law “clearly says he should be paid accordingly and to my knowledge it has not changed”.

Khasu said Metsing’s argument “is not based on proper understanding of the law”.

“As for the other MPs perhaps there is a law that says as he says,” Khasu said.

The RCL leader Rantšo accused Metsing of misleading his party youths on the legal status.

She said Metsing remember that she reported within two days of her fleeing to South Africa after she was attacked at her home.

Rantšo said the Lesotho embassy in South Africa arranged communication between her and the government about her situation, “meaning the government knows exactly why I am not in the country”.

She said Public Service Minister Tsukutlane Au, who was the acting Foreign Affairs Minister at the time also passed her concerns to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, Metsing and Defence Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi.

“The Defence Minister’s response was that nothing happened to me and therefore I should come back and nothing will happen to me. I felt humiliated because (they) could not say I was lying when I said I was attacked at my home,” she said.

Rantšo also said a letter in which she explained to Speaker of Parliament Ntlhoi Motsamai why she would not attend parliament until further notice was read in the presence of Metsing as the leader of the House.

“I can’t believe he is the same man who is today telling his party youth these things. He is misleading them,” she said.

Rantšo said if the government can heed Metsing’s advice and stop their salaries, “I don’t know how I will live here in South Africa because I don’t have money”.

“I think this is a strategy to destroy the opposition by starving the leaders,” she said.

The BNP spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe said Metsing should be the last person to talk about respect for the law because he is currently under investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).

“The Court of Appeal has ruled that the DCEO should go on to investigate corruption allegations against him despite that he used all he could lay his hands on to stop that investigation,” Mofomobe said.

Metsing’s assertions come about seven months after Home Affairs Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane said opposition MPs who had boycotted parliament for four months could be disqualified and lose their seats.

Rakuoane said this at the SADC Commission of Inquiry into the political and security instability in Lesotho, chaired by a Botswana judge Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi in October last year.

He said the opposition MPs’ days in Parliament were numbered after they failed to report in Parliament for three successive months.

He referred to Section 60 of the constitution, Amendment No. 7 of 1997 which says a “senator (other than a Principal Chief) or a member of the National Assembly shall vacate office as such if, in any one year and without the written permission of the President of the Senate or, as the case may be, the Speaker of the National Assembly he is absent from one-third of the total number of sittings of the House of which he is a member.”

The opposition MPs continued to boycott parliament until February this year when the commission’s report was handed to the House by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Nothing happened to them.




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