Vote  them out

Vote them out

WE are not surprised that the controversial decision by MPs to award themselves a hefty M5 000 fuel allowance every month has sparked the fierce response from Basotho that it has.

The decision appears not only ill-thought out but badly timed.
At a time when the majority of Basotho are grappling with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses, our MPs are behaving as if they are just arriving from another planet.
We all know that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to massive lay-offs as companies sought to stay afloat. Others have had to take massive cuts on their monthly salaries, just to stay on their jobs.

There are others who are not so lucky to be employed and are eking a living in the informal sector where conditions can be quite brutal.
Yet amid this unprecedented economic crisis brought by Covid-19, we have a bunch of MPs who think now is the right time to give themselves a massive bump on their allowances.
It would therefore appear as if our MPs are completely out of touch with the plight of ordinary citizens.

At a time when everyone is being asked to tighten their belts, our MPs are determined to live large. These are individuals who earn a gross monthly salary of M37 000 each, a figure that is not so small by Lesotho standards.
They also take home a M150 allowance every time they attend parliamentary sessions.

A factory worker, by contrast, earns about M1 800 a month.
Yet amid this fierce pushback from Basotho, some MPs have had the audacity to seek to justify the new allowances, arguing they are not being paid well enough like their peers in the region.
We would like to think that we would have completely missed the point were we to start entertaining such skewed reasoning.
MPs are paid on the basis of what a country can afford. And Lesotho is paying its MPs salaries and allowances that are commensurate with what it generates. It is as simple as that.

It would therefore be ridiculous for our MPs to demand the same salaries and benefits as their counterparts, let’s say, in our much more prosperous neighbour South Africa.
That they are helping bury people in their constituencies and therefore need a top-up is really a side issue.
It is on the basis of the above points that we think the decision to award themselves the allowance raise was badly timed. Couldn’t they have waited until after the Covid-19 dust had settled?

With just over a year remaining before the next general election, it would appear that this will be a key electoral issue.
And the only way Basotho have to express their utter disgust with this decision is to punish the current crop at the ballot box next year.
They must flock to the polls and make their voice heard, resoundingly.

Unless Basotho do so, these MPs will continue to treat the ordinary people with contempt. Now is the time to punish them by voting them out.
We need a new breed of MPs who are not hungry.
We need a new breed that sees Parliament as a vehicle to serve Basotho not to push their own, narrow, selfish agendas.

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