‘Speaker erred on show cause letters’

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former-speaker-of-parliament-mr-sephiri-motanyane-2’Marafaele Mohloboli

FORMER National Assembly speaker Sephiri Motanyane says his successor, Ntlhoi Motsamai, erred in asking 13 opposition members of parliament (MPs) to “show cause” why they should not be expelled from the august house for alleged absenteeism without her permission.

Ms Motsamai last Friday wrote letters to 13 MPs who include the exiled opposition bloc leaders, former premier Thomas Thabane, Thesele ’Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) respectively.

The trio sought refuge in South Africa on 11, 13 and 26 May 2015 respectively, allegedly after being alerted of a plot to kill them by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members — an accusation the army and government have vehemently denied.

Other MPs facing expulsion include the BNP’s deputy leader Joang Molapo and Dr Nthabiseng Makoae and the ABC’s Samonyane Ntsekele, Leshoboro Mohlajoa, Tšoeu Molise, Majoro Mohapi, Chalane Phori, Mokherane Tsatsanyane, Motlohi Maliehe and Prince Maliehe.

However, Ms Motsamai has since made an undertaking before the High Court to suspend acting on the letters until a ruling is made on the MPs’ court challenge.

In the letters, Ms Motsamai states that by 9 December 2015, the legislators had reached the “threshold of the prohibited absenteeism” by being absent during a third of the total sessions of the house in a year without her permission.

The opposition’s 55 MPs started boycotting the august house on 23 June last year when it adjourned, protesting alleged lack of law and order which had resulted in their three leaders seeking refuge in South Africa the previous month.

In addition to the safe return of their leaders and all the other exiles, the MPs also demanded the prosecution of LDF members who killed former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao. The former army chief was fatally shot on 25 June 2015 by fellow LDF members who had come to arrest him on suspicion he had planned to lead a mutiny and remove the military command.

The opposition has queried the timing of the move, saying it was ultimately meant to reduce the number of opposition MPs in the event of a no-confidence motion on the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led government.

Mr Motanyane this week told the Lesotho Times Ms Motsamai’s decision was “ill-informed and did not hold water” since it was made almost a year after the alleged infraction was committed.

“If there was misconduct, then the MPs should have been reprimanded there and then,” Mr Motanyane said.

“It just does not make sense; what she ought to have done was to table the issue in Parliament and the MPs would have been reprimanded.

“She was not advised well and she does not have the powers to expel any MP. She only has the powers to suspend an MP for two days at the most.”

Mr Motanyane also criticised the decision to adjourn the National Assembly saying there should have been a motion moved by the Leader of the House, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, which would been decided by voting.

Ms Motsamai indefinitely adjourned the National Assembly on Tuesday.

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