HEI!  THE Rt. Hon. Mr Speaker has the keys

Makhabane Maluke

Villagers who frequently fall victim to livestock thieves know very well that a well intended search for stolen livestock can be misdirected to a wrong search area, until all hope to find the stolen livestock is lost, and the search called off [Ho lahlisoamohlala]. How the Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly surfaced during the current prorogation saga had a lot in it. His could be the best short cut to where wish is to go.

The Hon Speaker’s unexpected communication prohibitingentry of “Strangers” on the premises of the N.A. on the 19th of September, 2014 was a shock: why did he do that?  There is a strong view that this was the Speaker’s own way of signaling for all actors to pay attention to his office; especially after the revocation of prorogation notice No. 67 of 5 September, 2014. He could be aware that all eyes were looking into a distant elsewhere beyond the horizon.

The date of 19 September as agreed to in Windhoek and Pretoria, together with the revocation of prorogation Notice are very important to a Speaker of a parliament that had been prorogued. He may have correctly expected entry of Members of Parliament on parliament grounds on that particular day: Indeed the majority of them spent that day there.

Firstly, parliament was prorogued while it was on adjournment sine die [to curtail the Speaker’s powers to call members to resume sittings at his pleasure]. Legal Notice No. 67, read together with the Windhoek and Pretoria agreements take parliament back to the initial adjournment sine die:  where the Speaker has the duty to exercise his powers as circumstances in parliament may dictate.

There are other arguments that lack of a detail regarding a date in the revocation instrument has not to shadow the main message of that legal Notice: which is to revoke LN. 42 of 10 June, 2014

This reminds many about the critical role of the Attorney General in a matter of governance like passage of legal instruments. Unfortunately, the nation knows that the AG is on forced /special leave. He would either confirm or deny the understanding and belief that it is now the Speaker who holds keys for members to attend parliament uninterrupted.

This calls for the nation to watch the Speaker’s attitude towards this impasse. Does he deny that parliament is now on adjournment sine die? Does he think the Executive which no longer meets as expected can construct a Speech from the Throne which represents all views of the coalition partners? Fear exists that any such a speech may not deserve His Majesty’s eyes and voice to His nation. It could best be delivered through a proxy as provided for in the House Standing Orders. That would be a further indicator that the current government has gone beyond the description of a lame duck and has actually burnt out.

It only has to be denied or confirmed that the only option available is for the Speaker to assemble MPs to continue their parliamentary work. Above all, prorogation of parliament Notice No.42 of 10 June 2014 has been revoked through Legal Notice No.67 of 5 September, 2014.

The nation has not to be held hostage to the poor quality of work of this coalition government: Prorogation has to show dates. Once it is effected, it may only be ended earlier than a stated date or extended beyond a gazetted date. Prorogation can not be cancelled, reversed, overturned, set aside etc. It is a special parliamentary tool whose use is to enable authorities to perfect parliamentary democracy and not to disrupt it. We in Lesotho of the 8th parliament and its first coalition government do revoke a prorogation instrument published months before. We are actually a  joke before democratic parliaments which view us as a nation always experimenting. This sad situation has to be corrected soonest possible, and that is now. How the state continues to be whipped by individuals and organisation in the courts of law reveals failure to govern properly. There is doubt as to whether government seeks and takes advise from the Attorney general’s Chambers for  governmental actions and decisions.

Lastly, a spokesperson of the Voice of the Voiceless once featured on TV Lesotho, threatening to sue whoever would undertake to interfere with this prorogation which he said was “Constitutional”. Probably he will not sue anyone now, because its revocation is similarly constitutional. This is all a muddle: Revocation of this particular prorogation remains constitutional but unconventional, it ought not to be revoked.

The Rt Hon Speaker, where are the keys to the Chamber/ Well and Committee rooms please? The ball is your court, Sir !



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