Connect with us


Tempers flare as MPs clash



TEMPERS flared between two MPs during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry on the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec).


The hearing had to be briefly stopped after a heated exchange between committee member ‘Mamarame Matela and chairman ‘Machabana Lemphane-Letsie.


This was after Matela, the Socialist Revolutionary MP, felt that Lemphane-Letsie was shutting her out from the proceedings.

Matekane renewed the call at his rally in Quthing on Sunday, saying the cases are damaging the image of the party.


The clash started when Matela asked officials from the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) if they had prepared a disaster plan and budget during Covid-19.


“I want to know if you can provide us with a plan and a budget because your mandate says you will design a plan and a budget,” Matela asked.


Instead of allowing the DMA officials to respond, Lemphane-Letsie said Matela was off-tangent with what was being discussed.


“We will talk about this as a committee and decide on how we depart from it,” Lemphane-Letsie.


This enraged Matela who turned on her microphone and started addressing Lemphane-Letsie. She said the DMA’s answer was the basis on which she wanted to ask further questions.

Lemphane-Letsie responded by instructing Matela to turn off the microphone so that proceedings could continue. She also told Mputi Mputi, another committee member, to ask his question.


Matela raised a point of order but Letsie told her that the question was noted.
Matela insisted that she wanted her questions answered.


“I just want some gaps filled”.


“Are you ignoring my questions accidentally or purposely? Please let the DMA answer me”.


Lemphane-Letsie however said the matter had been closed but before she could finish talking Matela yelled: “If you do not allow me to ask then you are making assumptions about things that you should have asked”.


She started pointing at Lemphane-Letsie, telling her that she should remember that she is “just a chairman to give the committee guidance and not to instruct” them.


“We are equal here. We are all Members of Parliament. That you are the chairman does not make you higher than us”.


Lemphane-Letsie ignored her again and called on Mputi to ask his questions.
When Mputi was done Lemphane-Letsie called on Napo Moshoeshoe but Matela interjected.


Moshoeshoe suggested journalists leave the room for a minute while the committee tried to thrash out matters.
Lemphane-Letsie obliged and cleared the room.
When the hearing resumed ‘Matela had cooled down.


Nkheli Liphoto

Continue Reading


Voting for chief mourners



Muckraker was surprised to hear that last Friday had been declared a holiday.
“Why?” she asked. “We are having local government elections,” they said.
That answer left Muckraker laughing for the entire weekend.

In between those laughs Muckraker had the time to check what a councillor does.

It turns out that their role has been so emasculated that they are now just chief mourners at funerals. They attend village funerals to make speeches.
Sometimes they attend meetings with senior government officials who generally ignore what they say. There are days when they measure some pieces of land for allocation. When not attending funerals, being used as rubber stamps by government officials and counting metres, they are dealing with domestic disputes.

Matters like who fought who at a local bar last week, who is refusing to return the wheelbarrow they borrowed from a neighbour or whose donkey strayed into whose maize field.
They are more counsellors than councillors.

It’s not that councillors don’t matter but that the government has insisted on keeping all the power, authority and responsibility to itself.
Councillors have no say in how much is allocated to their areas or how resources are used.

The marginalisation of the local government is deliberate. Those running the national government think they know what is best for the people.
There is however a more sinister motive for demoting local government into organisers of pitsos.

It’s about resources. Not to distribute but to eat.
Senior politicians and government officials know that handing over real power to the councillors means they will also have to surrender the feeding trough.
The rule in this country is that you should never steal because the central government hates competition.

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuuu

Continue Reading


Give more power to local councils



AT the time of writing last night, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) was leading in results that had been announced for last weekend’s local government elections.

What stands out though was the massive voter apathy that saw Basotho largely shunning the elections.
Under normal circumstances, local government elections should trigger massive local interest as the issues directly affect people at the grassroots level.

Sadly, that has not been the case.
What we have seen is general apathy toward the polls with Basotho ignoring the elections altogether. It would appear that most Basotho have very little appreciation of how the local government system works in practice.

That probably explains why there has been very little enthusiasm towards these elections.
Perhaps the biggest cause of the apathy is that most people don’t really understand the critical role of local governments.

The other reason could be the government’s reluctance to devolve more authority and responsibilities to the local government. The talk of devolution has been there for years but with little tangible results.
Without much gravitas councillors have been reduced to mere talking heads with little or no say in the distribution of resources to the people.

This makes people see local government elections as a ‘by the way’ instead of being the cornerstone of both democracy in general and service delivery.
Local government elections have thus been reduced into an expensive money wasting junket meant to satisfy a constitutional obligation rather than electing local leaders to drive the development of communities.

We would suggest harmonising the elections to cut the cost of voter education. Yet that would not address the apathy.
The solution to the people’s aloofness to the local elections is to give more responsibilities to the local councils. The people have to be convinced that local governments matter. And that can only be achieved by dispersing power, authority and resources to the councils.

That push should come from the government and the opposition.
The current results of the elections appear to show that the RFP was running neck and neck to the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) party.
The other smaller parties appear to have made very little impact in the polls.

What we are likely to see in the long run is a clear contest between the RFP and the DC for supremacy. It would appear that despite some trouble in the RFP cockpit over Matekane’s leadership style, the people on the ground still love their leader and the party.

For Matekane, the honeymoon is still not over. He remains the darling of the rural masses who still see him as a “political Messiah” sent to deliver them from economic penury. They still believe in his vision and political programmes.
While the DC appears to have retained its grassroots supporters, there is still so much work for the party if it is to mount a serious challenge to the RFP’s hegemony in the next elections.

It will need to project itself as a credible alternative voice in parliament if it is to make an impact. That will require that it maintains its stability by speaking with one voice.
Until the government empowers local councils to ensure they have real power to improve the lives of the people at the micro-level, the people will continue to see local government elections as a waste of money.

Continue Reading


RFP takes slight lead in local government elections



THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) was enjoying a slight lead in local government elections conducted last week.

By last night, the RFP had bagged 295 councils with the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) taking 285.

At the time of going to print last night, there were still 72 electoral divisions to be counted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Lesotho has 367 councils or electoral divisions in total.
The results of the elections will likely see parties in the ruling coalition backing each other with those in the opposition doing the same to their bloc.

Opposition parties like the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Basotho Action Party (BAP) have also got a sizable chunk of councils, which could provide some sort of a cushion to the DC.

In the same vein, the RFP backers like the Alliance of Democrats (AD) and the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) have also scooped quite a number of councils.
Other parties like the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) have bagged very few seats to make any impact in support of the DC, which they back in parliament.

Speaking a day after the elections, DC leader Mathibeli Mokhotho, said his party had performed exceptionally well during the election.
“We have won due to stability and engagement,” he said, adding that political education and a united strong leadership at all levels of the party structures had seen the party perform fairly well.

“I also thank the entire DC membership and the Basotho nation at large for entrusting us with the local governance and government,” he says.
“We will shoulder this responsibility well,” he says.

For him, the results show a growing trust of Basotho in his party and governance.
However, even in districts where the DC garnered quite many councils and won the districts the RFP still has councils it controls.
For example, in Quthing the DC won the Urban Council, Tšitsong, and Qomo-Qomong, while in Tele the two parties have equal councillors and the remaining two councils are for the RFP.

In Qacha’s Nek, the DC’s stronghold, it has won all four councils.
Dr Tlohang Letsie, a political analyst, said the local government elections appear almost meaningless to many people.

Even the people who had voted in October elections did not vote in last Friday’s elections, he argued.
“Even the people who were passionate to vote in the past have not voted now,” he says.

Dr Letsie said this was caused by the fact that the local government elections are not of significance as compared to the general elections.
Dr Letsie says the RFP did exceptionally well in urban areas in the general election last year where people do not have anything to do with councillors.
“Most of them do not even know their councillors because they do not deal with councillors,” he says.
“Many do not even know the names of their councillors.”

Such people are not motivated in any way to go and vote during local government polls.
He said in this election in particular, the failure of the RFP to deliver on its election manifesto could have created apathy.
“The RFP was voted by the people who had a lot of expectations,” Dr Letsie said.

“It got a sympathy vote because people were seeing it as an alternative to established parties,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said, the expectations were too high.

In politics, Dr Letsie said, once a party seems to fail to deliver on what it has promised, and fails to reach the expectations, people usually become despondent.
“The RFP has not (implemented) much of the expected changes and some people have become despondent,” he said.

He said the councillors are not viewed as significant to the lives of many people hence they do not consider voting for them a great issue.

Majara Molupe

Continue Reading