Mokhothu sues Speaker

Mokhothu sues Speaker

MASERU – THE Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Mathibeli Mokhothu is suing Speaker of Parliament Sephiri Motanyane for allegedly stripping him of his title as leader of opposition in parliament.
In an urgent application filed on Tuesday, Mokhothu argues that Motanyane was wrong when he ruled that he does not qualify to be the leader of the opposition because the DC does not have 25 percent of the total seats in parliament.

He wants the High Court to compel the Speaker to declare him Leader of the Opposition. The title comes with perks such as an official vehicle, a bodyguard, support staff, an office and a salary equivalent to that of a deputy minister.
Mokhothu’s lawsuit is supported by the DC, the National Independent Party (NIP) and the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD). The three parties are all plaintiffs in the case.

Motanyane is being sued together with the Clerk of the National Assembly Advocate Fine Maema, Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs Lebohang Hlaele, Minister of Finance Dr Moeketsi Majoro and the Attorney General.
Mokhothu, MP for Qhoali Constituency, says following the National Assembly election held on June 3 a coalition of three opposition parties introduced him as the leader of opposition in the 10th parliament. The announcement, which was in the form of a letter, was on June 12.

He says his party has managed to secure 30 seats in parliament and is the largest opposition party.
Mokhothu says at the sitting of parliament, Motanyane read the letter from the coalition nominating him as the leader of opposition.
Mokhothu says Motanyane then announced him the leader of opposition.

He says Motanyane even asked him to stand up so that members of the House could see him.
Mokhothu who is still in self-exile in South Africa says a coalition agreement by the three parties, DC, PFD and NIP was given to Motanyane on July 4.
He says the Speaker did not object when the parties presented the memorandum of the coalition agreement signed on July 28 this year.
He however says Motanyane quickly turned around and said he would make a ruling on whether he should be the leader of opposition after September 30 when parliament reopens after the winter break.

When the House resumed last month, Motanyane ruled that there was no leader of opposition in parliament. Motanyane said the coalition of opposition parties that nominated Mokhothu was not legal.
Motanyane said “there is no such legal body called coalition of political parties”.
Mokhothu also complains that Motanyane said “collaboration between political parties does not bring about the existence of such a legal body as coalition of political parties”.

“I am of the view that I have been legally advised and verily believe that the status I once acquired could not be lost unless there are clear and express words in the legislation stating that the status shall be lost,” Mokhothu says.
“There is no provision in the Members of Parliament Salaries Act 1998 as amended that I could lose my seat.”

Majara Molupe

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