MPs walk out of parliament

MPs walk out of parliament

MASERU – OPPOSITION MPs walked out of parliament in protest last Thursday because the government MPs, including ministers, were absent without giving any notice to the Speaker.
The opposition was fuming because that was the day when some ministers were supposed to answer questions from MPs about their portfolios.
On the ruling side there were no more than five MPs out of 63, including 31 ministers.

The ruling MPs had attended Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s public gathering in Mafeteng, and the Speaker was not aware that they would not attend the parliament business.
Deputy Speaker, Teboho Lehloenya, tried to continue with the day’s business but the opposition said it will be useless because ministers were supposed to answer their questions on that day.
The Democratic Congress (DC) spokesman, Malingoaneng MP Serialong Qoo, was particularly furious.

“We will not take this any longer. If they are not here we are walking out,” Qoo said. The opposition walked out after only signing the attendance book that guarantees that they get their M150 daily allowance. The MP for Senqu, Likeleli Tampane, told thepost that ministers’ absence indicates that they don’t respect their parliamentary duties.
“We were surprised that there was not even a single minister in the parliament to answer the questions,” Tampane said. “It was our first time to see the government doing that. I think it is the first of its kind in the history of the Lesotho parliament.”

“They are disorganised and they do not know how to manage their things.” “We walked out to show Basotho that this government does not care about them,” she added.

“Even if we did not walk out there would be no one to answer our questions, so sitting in that house was of no use.” From the few ruling MPs who were present, the fired All Basotho Convention (ABC) chairman Motlohi Maliehe said the Deputy Speaker Teboho Lehloenya should have stopped business immediately when he realized that the government side was not there.

“Honourable Deputy Speaker, you were supposed to have dismissed the assembly immediately instead of allowing us to settle and sign for our presence,” Maliehe said.
This was a follow-up to the Mosalemane MP for the ABC, Sam Rapapa, who had stood on point of order advising Lehloenya not to continue with the business. The ABC’s MP for Mabote, Fako Moshoeshoe, later told thepost that “the ministers delayed on the way and they arrived later than the time they were supposed to be in the house”.

“Consequently the opposition took advantage of that by walking out of the parliament,” he added. “But as the government, we will make sure that this does not happen again by making some arrangements before going to meetings like this one.” Most of the questions for the day were directed at Local Government Minister Habofanoe Lehana, Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, Minister of Agriculture Mahala Molapo and Education Minister Professor Ntoi Rapapa.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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