Youths to petition parly over M5000 fuel allowances

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Pascalinah Kabi

A YOUTH pressure group, Bachashutdown, will tomorrow stage a protest march against the government’s decision to award legislators monthly tax-free fuel allowances of M5000 each.

The youths will march will start from Sefikeng sa Morena Moshoeshoe I to the parliament building at Mpilo Hill in Maseru.

The country’s lawmakers began receiving monthly tax-free fuel allowances of M5000 each at the end of last month.

The new fuel windfall was backdated to the start of the current 2021/22 financial year on 1 April 2021.

This means that each of them pocketed M20 000 for the four months from April to July 2021.

The government went ahead with the payments despite an outcry from some of the opposition legislators and the public who argued that the allowances were ill-conceived especially as the country had more pressing problems like the Covid-19 pandemic to deal with.

MPs who argued in favour of the allowances said they needed them to travel to hard-to-reach areas in their constituencies.

Bachashutdown said they intend to march to parliament tomorrow to deliver a petition to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Sephiri Motanyane, calling for the revocation of the decision to award the fuel allowances.

The group said they have decided to go ahead with the protest after Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro ignored their written request for permission to stage the protest march.

Bachashutdown wrote to Dr Majoro to request permission to hold a protest march because Public Health (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 currently prohibit protest marches as part of measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19.

The group, said it took the premier’s silence as a tacit approval of their plans.

“On 10 August 2021, we delivered a letter to the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro – which was duly received – requesting permission to organise a march to parliament on the 20th of August 2021 from 9am to 1pm,” the group said in a statement this week.

“We intend to deliver a petition to the leader of the house urging him to revoke the Members of Parliament (Amendment Schedule) Regulations of 2020.

“We afforded the Prime Minister until Friday 13 August 2021, to respond to our request and indicated that if he did not reply we would take his silence as consent. “Today (15 August 2021), there has been no response from the office of the Prime Minister and we are proceeding with the protest.

“We pledge to take all necessary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and make this event safe for participants. We also wish to emphasise that our fundamental human rights as citizens are guaranteed by the constitution. These rights include freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association,” the youths said in the statement.

Police Spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli was not reachable to say whether they would allow the march to go ahead.

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