MPs stick to their guns

MPs stick to their guns

MASERU-MPs who awarded themselves a controversial M5 000 fuel allowance last week are not backing down despite swelling anger from the public.
The MPs are from all the major political parties represented in Parliament. They are from the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC), the Democratic Congress (DC), the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and the National Independent Party (NIP).

Some MPs from the Alliance of Democrats (AD), the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) MPs and the Basotho National Party (BNP) have also thrown their weight behind the proposal.
This is despite the fact that some of the parties have officially distanced themselves from the decision.

The decision to defend the allowances comes at a time when about 6 000 Basotho signed a petition protesting against “the unfair act” of Parliament. The petition was handed over to Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro last week.
The MEC’s Women’s League this week issued a statement lambasting the decision to award the allowances. It urged its MPs to reject and dissociate themselves from the decision.

In what points to the confusion within the party, the MEC’s deputy leader, Tšepang Tšita-Mosena, insisted last week that they deserve the new allowances.
She said that is because the poor often pester them with requests for financial support.
Speaking at a press conference last week, Tšita-Mosena said Lesotho’s MPs were earning a pittance as compared to their counterparts in the region.
“Lesotho comes last on Members of Parliament salaries. Members of Parliament also use their own family money to help their communities,” Tšita-Mosena said.

“The money is all spent on the people.”
She said principal secretaries earn way better than MPs.
The MPs said despite the public outcry, they need the money since they sometimes use their own funds to help the needy in their communities.
The parliamentary chief whip, Mankoe Maime, lambasted parties that had since made a U-turn on the matter.

“It is hypocritical that some of us have now gone to the media saying they reject the allowances yet they were part of us when we agreed on (the deal),” Maime said.
Maime was referring to some AD MPs who buckled under pressure from the public and apologised for supporting the motion for the allowances.
The MPs also said they deserved the allowances because “even some journalists pester us with requests for money”.
Malimong MP, Leshoboro Mohlajoa, said journalists are “a source of the whole controversy” saying “radio journalists expect MPs to help people with their own money”.
“You, journalists, sometimes personally call us asking for money,” Mohlajoa said.

The MPs said they have passed a lot of gazettes in the past without having to call press conferences for justification but they did this because “some MPs have chosen to use parliamentary affairs as political fields”.
“Only Lesotho MPs in the world are earning salaries this low,” Maime said.
“It is because of some members of the House who play politics when they are supposed to review our salaries,” he said.

“We are embarrassed by the members of the House who have been going out playing dirty politics on the issue of fuel allowances.”
Maime said they realise and understand that the country is living through a Covid-19 pandemic, saying they are not doing the changes to hurt other people.
“Public servants have a lot of benefits compared to Members of the Parliament,” he said.

He said the leader of LCD, Mothetjoa Metsing, who strongly opposes the MPs’ fuel allowances, “gets a lot of benefits including a Lexus that consumes a lot of fuel daily, a driver, a guard, house workers, and gardeners”.
“His wife too gets the benefits, they get medical aid, electricity, free water, and others but he dares to oppose his colleagues’ benefits,” he said.
Another MP, ’Mathabo Moremoholo, a member of the AD, said the community “does not feel pity for us because they expect us to help them but refuse to give us allowances”.

“I arrived in this parliament with blots on the cheeks (lichubaba) and I did not even have shoes, I received M500 000 then bought a car,” Moremoholo said.
Moremoholo urged the entire nation to “stop talking and shut up because we bury your loved ones with our own money”.
“They should shut up and let us work for them and the coming generations,” she said.

The Mosalemane MP, Local Government Minister Sam Rapapa, said the allowance regulations also passed through cabinet before passing to the House.
“The cabinet has given its blessing over the issue,” Rapapa said.
He said the issue does not belong to the MPs alone but all the stakeholders.
The NIP leader, Kimetso Mathaba, said the law had already been passed and “there is no reason to go to the media, it’s just that we want to clarify how the issue came into the House”.

But AD spokesman Apesi Ratšele said MPs who support the allowances lack morality.
“It is madness for members to demand such allowances as they do not even have valid reasons,” Ratšele said.
“Instead of being ashamed Members of Parliament went on to show their weaknesses by calling a press conference,” he said.
The LCD wants an independent commission to review the MPs’ salaries and benefits so that MPs do not do it themselves.

Nkheli Liphoto

Previous LCA senior staff ‘conflicted’
Next Mofomobe joins BNP race

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