Speaker blocked

Speaker blocked

MASERU – A High Court judge has stopped moves to investigate and discipline opposition MPs accused of causing chaos in parliament two weeks ago. Speaker of Parliament Sephiri Motanyane instructed parliament’s ethics committee to investigate three opposition MPs’ who allegedly disrupted the session.

The session had to be adjourned when MPs almost came to blows during a debate over Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s alleged instructions to the police to beat suspects. The Democratic Congress (DC) MPs – Serialong Qoo, Palo Leteetee and Maimane Maphathe – were hauled before the ethics committee last week for “bringing the House into disrepute”.

The hearing had been scheduled to start today but thanks to Justice Molefi Makara the MPs have a reprieve.
This was after the MPs filed an urgent application arguing that the hearing should be stopped because the committee is likely to be biased.

The MPs argued that it is unfair for the committee to charge them alone when other MPs from the ruling coalition were involved in the fracas.
Qoo was facing charges of disorderly conduct in the chamber, participating in the disruption of the House proceedings, defying the Speaker’s orders, participating in undermining the Speaker’s authority, verbally attacking the Speaker and other MPs and bringing the House into disrepute.

Maphathe is accused of being involved in the scuffle, disrupting the session and using vulgar language and bringing the House into disrepute.
Leteetee is accused of supporting Qoo’s allegations against the Speaker and disrupting proceedings.
Both are also accused of bringing the House into disrepute.
During the heated debate Qoo had said Motanyane was behind the lawlessness in the country because he failed to tell Thabane to withdraw his instructions to the police.

He said the Speaker was to blame for the murders in the country because he had refused to call the prime minister to order.
“I am telling you Ntate Motanyane. The situation is where it is in the country because of you. Police are beating the people because of you,” Qoo said.
The Speaker ordered Qoo to sit but he refused and raised his voice.

The exchange of words between the Speaker and Qoo lasted for about 10 minutes.
Qoo told the Speaker to sit down “so that I can explain to you that you are the one who has plunged this country into rampant lawlessness”.
He said it was because of Motanyane that three opposition leaders, DC’s deputy leader Mathibeli Mokhothu, LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing and his deputy Tšeliso Mokhosi fled the country.

The trio skipped the country saying they were afraid of the police whom they accused of torturing crime suspects. Some government MPs then crossed the Well to confront Qoo and other opposition MPs. There was a brief scuffle before some MPs intervened.

The ethics committee is made up of Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) spokesman Teboho Sekata, Democratic Congress (DC) chairman Motlalentoa Letsosa, Basotholand Congress Party (BCP) leader Thulo Mahlakeng, all of whom are members of the opposition together with Qoo.

Other members are ’Mathabo Moremoholo, Prince Maliehe and Samuel Rapapa, who are all from the ruling All Basotho Convection.
Rakuoane, a lawyer by profession, said they are yet to get a lawyer to help them lay charges against those involved in the incident. Mahlakeng is also an advocate of the High Court.

Rakuoane said the focus would not only be on Qoo but all those who were involved.
He said the committee is an overseer of ethics and guards against all bad practices and abuse of power that could bring the House into disrepute.
The MPs could be suspended for up to nine months if found guilty.

Staff Reporter

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