MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili came under fierce attack on Friday for his government’s failure to implement a law that requires public officers to declare their assets.
The leader of the opposition Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), Lekhetho Rakuoane, asked Mosisili why the government had failed to force public office holders to declare their assets.
Speaking during the prime minister’s question time in parliament, Rakuoane asked Mosisili to explain to parliament why the government had not moved an inch to implement the law which was gazetted in December 2006.
The gazette gave public officers six months to declare their assets.
Rakuoane said the government needed to explain why it had allowed so much time to pass without implementing the requirement.
“This means that on 15 June 2007 the declaration of assets should have been effected,” he said.
“Six months have now passed six times. Why under the good rule of law has this not been addressed?”
Public officers who are required by law to declare their assets according to the gazette include the prime minister and all government ministers, senior government officials and all judicial officers including High Court judges.
The law mandates the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to investigate anyone in the public and private sector whom it suspects to be involved in corrupt financial transactions.
Mosisili, who appeared to have been taken aback by the question, said the government was still waiting for the passing of regulations that govern the implementation of the law.
“Regulations are the important part in the implementation of the principal law,” Mosisili said.
“We are still in process of making those regulations that will show how the investigation and declaration of assets should be done.”
He however admitted that the government had taken too long to implement the law.
He then challenged other interested parties to take action.
“If we who are in government have delayed, and it may be so, why have others who eagerly want to see the law being implemented not been doing anything?” he said.
Mosisili blamed parliamentarians for failing to come up with rules on how the declaration of assets would proceed.
“Making rules and regulations is not the government’s responsibility alone — it is also the responsibility of all members of parliament,” he said.
Rakuoane also asked Mosisili why the government had failed to come up with a national planning board to drive government economic policy.
Rakuoane said the national planning board was a constitutional requirement and part of the government’s economic policy.
He said the constitution provided for parliament to make regulations that would show how the board would work and how it would be appointed.
“Are we still under the rule of law, which is an important component of the government’s national policy?” Rakuoane asked.
“Is there a major action of correcting the error if the national planning board did not work as required by the constitution?”
In his response, Mosisili said the government had observed that there was no clear and distinctive roles allocated to the board and the parent Ministry of Finance.
“We observed that it (the board) clashed with the Ministry of Finance and National Planning because it was not clear as to what exactly the Ministry of Finance’s role was and what the board should do,” Mosisili said.
He said the government had tried to correct this anomaly through an amendment to the Constitution Bill 2007. But the Bill was thrown out by the senate.
“This honourable house debated the Bill and passed it with a two-thirds majority,” he said.
“It was passed to the Senate House where it was rejected.”
“Unfortunately it was at the influence of some members of this honourable house,” Mosisili added amid applause by members of his ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy and its ally, the National Independent Party.
“To me this was a classical case of what the whites call ‘throwing away the baby with the bath water,’” he said.
“Positive things in the Bill were ignored.”