Two deputy ministers, one portfolio

Two deputy ministers, one portfolio

MASERU – THE long-running saga of having two deputy ministers in the Ministry of Education was finally resolved this week after Cabinet clarified their roles.
The matter had become a source of embarrassment and scorn for the two deputies.
Deputy Minister Mothepu Mahapa is now overseeing the affairs of higher education while ’Maphoka Motoboli has been assigned to the basic education portfolio.
Professor Ntoi Rapapa is still the substantive minister.

The Cabinet reached this decision after months of advice that later turned into complaints from the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Teboho Lehloenya, who was confused on the roles of the two deputies.
So deep was the confusion that the opposition began to mockingly refer Mahapa as “the deputy of deputy or assistant of assistant”.
Other government officials did not understand why the ministry needed two deputy ministers.
Lehloenya had told Parliament that he was confused because the government had not defined the roles of the two deputies.

Lehloenya, to make sense of Mahapa’s role in government, denied him a chance to speak on behalf of the ministry in Parliament.
This was when Mahapa wanted to answer questions on his minister’s behalf but Lehloenya told him to sit down.
Undeterred, Mahapa tried again but Lehloenya would not budge.

Lehloenya last month insisted that Mahapa could not speak for the minister because his position was not clear.
He reasoned that the Hansard writers did not know how to differentiate between Mahapa and Motoboli as deputy ministers of the same ministry.
Lehloenya said Hansard writers would not know “whether it is the one who is a male or that one who is a female”.
“We do not know who is speaking on behalf of the ministry,” Lehloenya complained.

“Until the government solves this, I will not allow you, Honourable Deputy Minister, to answer questions on behalf of the ministry.”

Staff Reporter

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