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MP ‘fears’ for her life

by Lesotho Times
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’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE opposition Democratic Congress’ (DC) legislator for the Senqu constituency, Likeleli Tampane, has accused the deputy Speaker of Parliament, Teboho Lehloenya of victimising her for turning down his request for her to defect to the Alliance of Democrats (AD).

Ms Tampane says she even fears for her life as she has been harassed and served with summons to appear before the parliamentary committee on ethics and conduct to answer to what she considers to be trumped up charges of obstructing parliamentary business.

She was last week served with the summons to answer charges in connection with a May 2018 incident where she refused to leave the National Assembly after she had been expelled along with other opposition legislators.

They were expelled for disrupting proceedings by Mr Lehloenya.

Ms Tampane says they were within their rights to demand clarity on the wool and mohair regulations that were introduced by the government.

The Agricultural Marketing (Wool and Mohair Licensing) Regulations 2018 were gazzetted by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Mahala Molapo, on 4 May 2018. The regulations state that no one will be allowed to trade in wool and mohair without a licence from the Ministry of Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing.

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

Prior to the National Assembly going on a winter break in May, 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 served with summons to appear before the parliamentary committee on ethics and conduct to answer for her conduct in resisting her expulsion.

However, Ms Tampane feels the charges are only a smokescreen and the real issue is that she is being ‘victimised’ for is her refusal to accede to Mr Lehloenya’s request to defect to Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s AD.

“I think my victimisation is politically motivated because the deputy speaker might still have a score to settle with me,” Ms Tampane told the Lesotho Times this week.

“There was a time when he (Mr Lehloenya) approached me and attempted to lure me to defect to the AD.

“I refused to allow him to come to my home for talks (over the proposed defection) but he insisted on coming and tried to convince me to join the AD and replace the late Gender minister, Kabelo Mafura (who died on 24 December 2017).

“I turned him (Mr Lehloenya) down because he was bad mouthing my leader (former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili), and he didn’t take this very well,” Ms Tampane said.

Ms Tampane further said she was worried that the summons was served on her by the police when such summons were ordinarily served by parliament officers and not the police.

“I don’t have a problem with him (Mr Lehloenya) exercising his powers to take me to task where I am thought to have erred but I have a problem when the summons are served by the police, especially while parliament is on a break. Why I am being hunted down as if I am a criminal?

“Such summons are not supposed to be served by the police and I am not comfortable with the way things are being done.

“This is scary for me and those close to me because lately we are living in unfortunate times where people are being persecuted by the police. The latest case is that of a woman who has gone missing without trace at the hands of the police,” Ms Tampane said in reference to fraud suspect, ‘Makarabo Mojakhomo who went missing on 30 May 2018

Ms Mojakhomo was arrested on 29 May this year and she was due in court on 31 May in connection with the fraud and theft of at least M200 000 from First Lady Maesaiah Thabane’s Trust Fund.  She could not appear in court after the police claimed she had escaped from custody while she was being prepared for court.

And this week, Ms Tampane said that she feared that she would also go missing if the police took her in.

However, Mr Lehloenya insisted that Ms Tampane was not being victimised and she had only been summoned to answer for being contemptuous to the deputy speaker when she disrupted parliamentary proceedings in May this year.

“Tampane is wanted for being contemptuous to the chair on the day when she disrupted the proceedings and not these other issues that she is raising.

It is neither here nor there whether or not I approached her to defect to AD. That is a story for another day and we should not lose focus of what the actual issue is as of now.

“I will therefore not comment on whether or not I approached her to defect. The fact is that she was very contemptuous to the chair on that day and the House failed to deliberate on any business because of her,” Mr Lehloenya said.

On his part, the Clerk for the National Assembly, Advocate Fine Maema, said that there was nothing sinister about the summons being served by police who are deployed at parliament as they are answerable to the Sergeant at Arms.

Advocate Maema said, “Since parliament is closed, it is not easy to know where the legislators are”.

“The ethics and code of conduct committee received a report that Honourable Tampane refused to leave the House and she is being summoned to appear before the said committee to answer to those charges. There is no reason for her to fear for her life,” Adv Maema said.

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