DC legislator Tampane faces lengthy suspension

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

OPPOSITION Democratic Congress legislator Likeleli Tampane who stands accused of unruly and disorderly behaviour could face suspension without pay from the august house, the Parliamentary Committee of Ethics, Code of Conduct, Immunities and Privileges has said.

Ms Tampane, who is the member of parliament for the Senqu constituency, could be suspended for 10 months for unbecoming behaviour in that on 31 May 2018, “she disrupted and impeded the (parliamentary) proceedings by being a polarising figure that led to the gross disorderliness that prevailed in the house”.

The Ethics Committee accuses Ms Tampane of unspecified “utterances and acts that constitute criminal offences that are prosecutable under Section 17 (b) and 18 (c) of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act of 1994”.

The case against Ms Tampane stems from her refusal to leave the house after being ordered to do so by the deputy Speaker Teboho Lehloenya who had been presiding over the debates on the controversial wool and mohair regulations.

Ms Tampane and other opposition legislators were expelled from parliament by Mr Lehloenya for disrupting proceedings in connection with the wool and mohair issue.

Ms Tampane was further served with summons to appear before the parliamentary committee on ethics and conduct to answer for her conduct in resisting her expulsion.

Prior to being ordered to leave the house, Ms Tampane had registered her strong objections to the wool and mohair regulations which forbid anyone to trade in wool and mohair without a licence obtained from the Ministry of Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing.

The regulations further state that “the holder of an export licence shall not export wool and mohair unless it is prepared, brokered, traded and auctioned in Lesotho”.

Any person found guilty of brokering, testing, processing, trading and auctioning wool and mohair without a licence is liable to a fine of M50 000 or a maximum of five years imprisonment.

Anyone found to be in the business of shearing wool and mohair or exporting without a licence will be fined M20 000 or be imprisoned for two years.

South African brokers BKB have been caught up in the government and the farmers’ fight over the wool and mohair regulations because they have been buying Lesotho’s wool and mohair and exporting it from South Africa for more than 40 years.

The government says the regulations are meant to benefit farmers but the farmers say they are meant to benefit a company owned by a Stone Shi, an Australian-Chinese businessman who is said to be close to some ministers.

According to the parliamentary committee, Ms Tampane undermined Mr Lehloenya’s authority as the presiding officer by refusing to leave the house when called upon to do so for her disorderly conduct during proceedings.

Rather than leave the house as directed, Ms Tampane is said to have persisted with her argument that wool and mohair regulations had to be set aside as they were not in the interest of the farmers who earn a living through selling their produce.

The committee further states that found Ms Tampane was uncooperative when it summoned her for a disciplinary hearing pertaining to her conduct. This forced the committee to compile a report based on the information which was captured in the Hansard for that particular day when she allegedly defied Mr Lehloenya.

“Given the foregoing background, the committee wishes to report that it found itself in a complex position of relying mainly on the Hansard in pursuing the matter because Honourable Tampane was very unaccommodating irrespective of the fact that the committee allowed her to come with her legal counsel to advise her during the (disciplinary) proceedings.

“The Committee takes a very dim view of the conduct of the said honorable member for failing to observe the rules and the laws governing this august house which she is expected to uphold and demonstrate leadership in their successful implementation,” part of the committee’s report states.

It is against this background that the committee recommended that Ms Tampane “be suspended from the proceedings of the house and its committees for a period of 10 months without pay, five months of which will be suspended provided she does not breach any of the privileges of the house and its committees for those ten months”.

Contacted for comment, Ms Tampane recently told the Lesotho Times that she felt that she has been treated unfairly simply because she rejected the advances of the deputy speaker who wanted her to defect to one of the governing parties in the four-party coalition.

The governing coalition comprises of the All Basotho Convention, the Alliance of Democrats, the Basotho National Party and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.

“I feel that I have not been treated fairly and have been deprived of my innocence until proven guilty. However, I shall take everything as it comes though I feel that in that duration I will surely suffer financially. This shall however, not impede me from executing my duties as expected by my people.

“I also choose not to say much as this is a matter I am leaving in the hands of my legal representative and my colleagues in opposition,” Ms Tampane said.

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