Reject MPs’ salary demands

Reject MPs’ salary demands

Lesotho’s MPs are said to be pushing a 100 percent salary
increase that will take their monthly salaries to a staggering
M75 000 per month.

The story, which is being denied in some quarters, has
triggered a national furore.
That is not surprising because the new proposed fi gure
comes at a time when most Basotho can barely breathe,
buffeted by mighty winds of economic crisis and uncertainty.
We know that the government could only manage to
award a measly fi ve percent raise for civil servants when
the budget was passed in February.
As a result of the Covid-19 inspired economic downturn
in business, most private companies have been forced to
lay off staff and signifi cantly cut salaries in a bid to stay
afl oat.

Experts warn that the effects of the pandemic might
linger on for the next two years, with devastating consequences
for the bottom poor.
Lesotho’s economy was already anemic even before
Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown from
March 30 to early May only exacerbated what was already
a precarious situation.

We can only shudder to think what lays ahead for our
small economy over the next couple of months as companies
begin to shed jobs.
It would therefore seem to be a clear demonstration of
lack of sensitivity on the part of the government to award
lavish salary adjustments to MPs at this present time.

With an election just two years away, that would be suicidal
for the governing parties in the new coalition as they
would be seen as insensitive and tone deaf.
Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and his new coalition
government must therefore swiftly reject the MPs demand
and push for austerity for everyone, including for
the MPs.

Their demand is simply a wrong call at the wrong time.
Over the last couple of years, the message from the government
has been that it is no longer business as usual.
We have been told in very clear terms that it’s time to
tighten our belts.

The belt-tightening process must involve everyone, including
MPs.
There is no argument that our MPs, who are currently
earning a gross monthly salary of M37 000, are some of
the best paid in Lesotho.
That salary is 18 times that of an average factory worker
who takes home M2 000 per month.

We do not buy their argument that they must be paid
just like their peers in the region. The economic circumstances
are simply different.
Any push to double their salaries will likely come across
as sheer greed and the MPs will not win that battle of
perceptions.

In the court of public opinion, MPs are already seen
as a bunch of greedy politicians who are only too keen to
feather their own nests.
The conclusion is that our MPs only want to use political
offi ce as a vehicle for self-enrichment. It is demands
such as this one on salaries that feeds this perception.

Prime Minister Majoro must therefore fi rmly reject the
MPs demands. Instead, he must channel the MPs energy
towards the agenda for development.
Our MPs must deal with the national reform agenda.
They must deal with issues of national economic development
for the country. We need fresh ideas on how to take
this country forward.

Parliament must be a vibrant theatre of struggle, with
our young MPs pushing the agenda for change. That
should be their preoccupation and not this narrow, selfish sand personal agenda.

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