By Billy Ntaote
MASERU –– Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on the Social Cluster on Monday threatened to have the leadership of the ministry of gender arrested for failing to submit the department’s 2014/15 budget report on time.
The committee’s acting Chairperson Mamoshe Limema told the ministry’s principal secretary (PS) Dr Majara Molapo, that failure to avail the report was a punishable offence.
In the end, Molapo was ordered to summon minister Thesele ‘Maseribane and the ministry’s top officials to the committee’s oversight meeting “within 30 minutes” to explain why the report had not been submitted by the February 28 deadline as expected.
However, when Molapo returned, he did not have ‘Maseribane whom he said was in Quthing and unaware he had to appear before the committee.
“I could not work on the report as I was engaged in the finalisation of the Rapokolana High Altitude Sports Centre that is supposed to be officially opened by the King next month,” Molapo said, before blaming the ministry’s Senior Economic Planner, Matlotlo Seisa, for the fiasco.
“He is responsible for all the communication the ministry has with the committee,” Molapo said.
He added the acting Financial Controller, Seboka Ketsi, was also best-placed to answer why the ministry had failed to submit the report as expected. But Limema was not impressed by the response, insisting the committee’s orders must be taken seriously.
“We derive our powers from the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 1994 sections 17 and 26 and we can use those sections to either summon you here with your minister or have you arrested,” said Limema, who went on to read the sections in question.
Limema was backed by the Qhoali No 68 constituency member of parliament Mathibeli Mokhothu, who said the committee’s letter to Molapo informing him about the need to submit the report by the set-deadline could be equated to a Court Order.
“Failure to abide by that letter’s instruction, as your ministry has done, is tantamount to contempt,” said Mokhothu.
However, when the committee returned from lunch, ‘Maseribane had now arrived and joined his subordinates, in discussing the report.