MP in scuffle with parking marshal over M3
Democratic Congress (DC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Kolo, Teboho Lehloenya, on Monday nearly exchanged blows with Basotho National Party (BNP) marshals over M3 he was refusing to pay for parking his vehicle at the BNP Centre in Maseru.
Mr Lehloenya refused to pay the money, arguing the receipt he had been issued by the parking marshal was fake. The MP further told the marshal that he suspected the party was not paying tax to the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) from the money it collected through parking fees.
“You cannot expect me to accept this fake receipt; it doesn’t show how much is being deducted as tax for the LRA. Tell me, how much of this M3 is being submitted to the LRA as tax?” Mr Lehloenya asked the marshal, who informed him that all he needed was the M3.
But with Mr Lehloenya adamant he would not pay the parking fee, and the marshal insisting he would not allow the MP to drive his vehicle away without “paying like everybody else”, the slanging match inevitably drew curious onlookers, among them this reporter.
An indignant Mr Lehloenya then left the parking lot and stormed the BNP offices at the Centre, but with the marshal in tow and still demanding the M3.
Mr Lehloenya, who continued to express outrage at being treated like a “nobody” when he was “a man of status”, then demanded to see the BNP leadership about the “ill-treatment”.
However, the situation turned from bad to worse for Mr Lehloenya who was given a cold reception by BNP spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe.
Mr Mofomobe had been attending the party’s National Executive Committee meeting when he was called out to intervene, but had no kind words for the DC MP.
Without exchanging any pleasentaries with Mr Lehloenya, the firebrand BNP spokesperson scornfully said, “oh, it’s you”, before ordering the marshal to “get more men to assist you and block the gates as you always do and don’t let this one (Lehloenya) go before he has paid our M3.”
Mr Mofomobe then abruptly went back to the NEC meeting after telling Mr Lehloenya to “go away”, leaving the MP visibly shaken.
Mr Lehloenya later told the Lesotho Times that he could not accept the receipt without clear indications of how the BNP would account for the money to the LRA.
“I realised that the receipt only had a BNP stamp and nothing else and looked suspicious and fraudulent. I couldn’t part with my M3 without asking questions. I also called the LRA to find out whether the party was paying tax from the money it is getting for the parking space and I have been promised that the matter is going to be looked into,” said Lehloenya.
The MP expressed disappointment at the reception he received from the BNP, adding he only paid the money as he now feared for his life.
“I ended up calling my relative, Lesojane Leuta, who is the party’s secretary general, to inquire why I was being ill-treated like this when he was at the Centre. But he told me he was not there, and I suspect Mofomobe’s rage, which was very clear in his voice and instructions, could have been because of the court case the BNP lost against Leuta, whom it wants to suspend as the secretary general,” said Mr Lehloenya.
However, Mr Mofomobe dismissed Mr Lehloenya’s “assumptions”, which he called baseless “as the parking marshals treat everybody the same.
“I didn’t even have to look at him at all; I just needed to issue the same instruction I give when such cases are brought to my attention. Everyone needs to pay for parking their cars on our premises. It’s a known fact that vehicles pay for parking space all over the city, but this man came here with an attitude,” said Mr Mofomobe, who dismissed claims that Mr Leuta’s High Court victory had been the reason for his indiferrent reaction to Mr Lehloenya.
“Lehloenya got pompous; he was expecting special treatment and we cannot offer him that here. On the issue of the LRA, we will wait and see whether they do their business on the instruction of politicians or what,” said Mr Mofomobe.