Senate to vote on Bill that will clip Thabane’s wings

Senate to vote on Bill that will clip Thabane’s wings

MASERU-THE Senate is expected to vote today on a Bill that will significantly clip the Prime Minister’s powers when he loses a vote of no-confidence.

If approved the Bill will make it impossible for the Prime Minister to rush to the King to advise him to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections when he loses a no-confidence vote.
Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, who leads the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), yesterday told the senators that the constitutional provision giving the premier such powers does not benefit the public.

“It is the Prime Minister and a few of his followers who benefit from the constitutional provision,” Advocate Rakuoane said.
Rakuoane, who moved the Bill in Parliament, was addressing 33 senators, 22 of whom are principal chiefs while 11 are political appointees.
He blamed the current law for blowing about a billion maloti on three parliamentary elections in the last five years.

Rakuoane said the elections were totally unnecessary.
He said MPs and senators got their interest-free loans paid off by the government, a practice he said was unfair to the electorate.
The Bill was taken to the senate’s legislation committee yesterday with the expectation that it will be brought back to the House today for final discussion and voting.   

The Principal Chief of Matsieng, Chief Seeiso Seeiso, told thepost that they are eager to vote for the amendment to the constitution as that will protect the people and the image of the King.
Chief Seeiso said it is not good in the eyes of the public that the King will be signing for laws or acts that will hurt them instead of bringing them any good results.

He said for the amendment to be successful it has to go to the senate and to the legislation committee then the owner of the amendment, Advocate Rakuoane in this case, comes and explains the motion to members.
That was what Advocate Rakuoane did yesterday.

Chief Seeiso said on Tuesday the senators sat down and discussed the issue of snap elections that leave the country financially in trouble.
“Most of us want to see that the amendment passes because we protect the King so that he does not to make decisions that hurt Basotho,” he said.
He also said he does “not want elections after elections”.

Advocate Rakuoane told thepost that he brought the Bill to parliament after he realised that the country was going for elections frequently at great cost.
He said every time there is instability or the Prime Minister faces a vote of no confidence he takes the nation to elections disregarding the financial impact on the country.

“Elections take a lot of money,” he said.
He also said if Basotho give parliament a five-year lifespan it has to finish its term.
“Snap elections are always of no help to Basotho,” he said.
He said the problem with snap elections is that they are as costly as war albeit this one not is not violent nor does it destroy infrastructure.
“People waste time and resources in election campaigns and everything,” he said.

Advocate Rakuoane said the issue of prorogation of parliament also becomes a challenge as even parliamentary committees have to be dissolved together with whatever business they are still dealing with.
“The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was doing a good job, headed by (Movement for Economic Change leader Selibe) Mochoboroane,” he said, adding that such good work is abruptly stopped by the prorogation.

The Prime Minister has constitutional powers to advise the King to prorogue parliament and if the provision is misused the public will suffer.
“Things such as this need serious introspection and amendment to the constitution,” he said.

He said the other problem is that the constitution does not address the issue of a Prime Minister’s retirement while still in office.
“Those steps are reviewed in this amendment,” he said.
Advocate Rakuoane said the motion was unanimously passed in the Lower House.

It is now waiting for the senate’s nod before receiving the royal ascent and enacted into law.

Nkheli Liphoto

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