MPs thrown out of parliament

MPs thrown out of parliament

MASERU-TWO MPs from the opposition Alliance of Democrats (AD) party were kicked out of parliament yesterday for protesting against a decision by the Speaker to hold sessions virtually.

Kose Makoa and Thuso Litjobo, who are both members of the AD’s national executive committee, argued the decision to hold parliamentary business virtually was unfair.
When the Deputy Speaker Lebohang Ramohlanka called them to order, Makoa kept on standing on points of order and Litjobo joined him.
Ramohlanka then instructed the sergeant-at-arms to escort the two MPs out of the House.

Earlier on Monday, Speaker of Parliament Sephiri Montanyane said all the House meetings shall be held virtually starting from Tuesday with only 30 members being allowed to enter the well.
Even though some members argued against the decision, Motanyane told them several times that it had been reached to protect MPs against Covid-19.

He said consultations into the matter were done with MPs deciding to suspend the House’s conventional sittings while switching to virtual ones.
Motanyane said major parties in the House recommended that virtual sittings and other hybrid representative sittings should be considered.
“Having assessed how the two models work they decided to use them,” Motanyane said.

“We even conducted trial virtual sittings on Tuesday last week in which approximately 40 members and nine observers participated,” he said.
Motanyane said they will start small and in the end hold 100 percent virtual meetings of the House.
He said there would be no convention meetings of the house from Tuesday this week, adding that all sittings shall be virtual and hybrid.
“That is, there will only be 30 members in the House who represent all the parliamentarians,” he said.

Motanyane said the MPs’ representatives will be selected by their party chief whips and their own parties in the following proportion.
The government will get 24 members and five whips while the opposition will get six members and two whips.
He also framed a temporary standing order for extraordinary sittings on the issues of “a pandemic and other circumstances”.

He said the standing order allows the Speaker to direct that all sittings must be held virtually depending of the prevailing circumstances.
He also said the clerk is also allowed to provide guidelines for such sittings.
Motanyane said for members to connect they will be provided with a link to follow the House proceedings and those who have logged in shall be registered as members attending a sitting of the House.
“They shall be entitled to a sitting allowance,” he said.

He said members failing to log in due to technical difficulties shall be considered absent for that day adding that voting shall be made by members attending physically while all questions and motions shall be presented to the table through electronic mails.
Motanyane said attendance by the media and the public shall be restricted while portfolio committee meetings will be held virtually.

Opposing this, an AD member ’Manthabiseng Phohleli argued that they were surprised by the announcement as they were never consulted.
Phohleli said they were never afforded time to discuss it first.
“Who decides for us here, we should be deciding in here,” she said.
He said the Speaker should make sure that they are not oppressed and dictated to as they are honorable members who make laws.

The Lithoteng MP, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, said they are being oppressed by people who had decided on the “30 people representation” structure as they were elected by their communities to represent them in parliament.
Moramotse is a member of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) but belongs to a faction rallying behind leader Thomas Thabane.
The faction has an unsigned alliance with the AD to oppose the government.
“We will not allow that because we’re supposed to work here,” Moramotse said.

Makoa said parliament is “not a family business that is run by individuals therefore we should get a motion for discussions of the issues before decisions” are made.
He argued that anyone who wants to change the way the House sits must bring their motion to parliament for debate.
Joang Molapo, a Basotho National Party (BNP) MP who votes with the AD, argued that the issue should be discussed.

“We will not allow anyone to decide for us. We are not allowed to vote,” Molapo said.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, also argued that the decision was done without the necessary consultations.
“Even the invitation to open parliament allowed all members to attend,” Metsing said, opposing the virtual meetings.
According to him it is necessary for the motion to be tabled so that members can decide the way forward.

Nkheli Liphoto

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