Parly endorses legislators’ salary hike


  • As statutory office bearers also join gravy train 


MASERU – The National Assembly on Tuesday this week validated the controversial increase of salaries and perks for legislators. This follows the adoption of a report by parliament’s portfolio committee on the prime minister’s ministries and departments, governance, foreign relations and information cluster which had previously endorsed the same increase.

The Members of Parliament (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations, 2023, and the Statutory Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations, 2023, presented to the National Assembly last week for endorsement, repeal and replace the Members of Parliament (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations, 2022 – reviews and categorises Members of Parliament salaries in terms of positions, allowances and privileges.

Both Regulations were tabled before the House by the Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Nthomeng Majara, and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Employment, Richard Ramoeletsi, respectively on May 17, and were subsequently referred to the portfolio committee for consideration. Approved by parliament, the Members of Parliament (MPs’) annual salaries are increased to M486 216 (M40 518 per month), while a Senator will pocket M464 532 (M38 711 per month). The prime minister and his deputy will take home M763 392 and M659 280 annually, respectively. A cabinet minister would earn M638 328 per year.  The adoption of the salary hikes also quashes an earlier motion by Socialist Revolutionaries leader, Advocate Teboho Mojapela, and Popular Front for Democracy leader, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, for amendments to the Regulations, which called for deletion of the increased salaries and some of the benefits attached.

These developments had sparked a lot of criticism from the general public and a section of the country’s political leadership, seeing continued condemnation of the increase in legislators’ perks emerge from the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) 22nd NGO Week and 33rd Annual General Meeting.

Speaking in some of the NGO Week sessions, LCN president, Thusoana Ntlama, also noted that the exorbitant benefits that the parliamentarians enjoy must be removed as this is another cause of the sky-rocketing youth unemployment, poverty, and escalating inflation that has pushed food prices up. Speaking to Public Eye on Wednesday this week, LCN executive director Sekonyela Mapetja said the council has not discussed the matter since the perks were approved and was not in a position to comment on the developments.

On May 23 the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Employment briefed the committee on the policy context, financial implications, contents and effects of the Regulations. The committee resolved to endorse both the Members of Parliament (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations, 2023 and Statutory Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations, 2023; and submitted its report on the two Regulations for adoption by the National Assembly.

Opposition Democratic Congress (DC) says the validation of these benefits by parliament is pure betrayal of the people’s trust in the current government which had promised to do away with the MPs benefits, including the M5 000 petrol allowances and the M150 daily sitting allowance.

DC deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, in an interview noted that his party has never had a problem with MPs’ salaries and benefits but the government had pledged in their campaign trail that they would ensure that the Members of Parliament (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations 2023 is passed without benefits that they labeled “ridiculous” and called the former government gluttonous.  

“All we are saying is that the government should deliver on its promise and remove those benefits, unless they were lying to people just to get their votes. These benefits are among other things that contributed to us losing elections to them as voters believed that they are better positioned to take better care of the country’s coffers,” Letsosa said.

For his part Advocate Rakuoane expressed utmost disappointment and anger with the endorsement of the perks, stating that he had filed a motion for parliament to delete some provisions of the Members of Parliament Salaries (Amendment of schedule) Regulations, 2023. He said his motion was never given a chance to be discussed as he had expected.

He said the Speaker of the House noted that the motion has fallen off and cannot be discussed as it has been overtaken by events.

Head of programmes management at the Transformation Resource Centre, Lira Theko, believes that this is disturbing issue, especially the M5 000 petrol allowance, adding that the grounds to give to the legislators such is questionable.

“You cannot compare a constituency in Motimposo with some constituency in Qaqatu, especially on the basis of financial expenditure. There should have been a clear criterion on the allocation of the petrol allowance,” he said.

He further stated that the transport allowance is not even accounted for as there is no monitoring to ensure that the money is indeed used for the benefit of Basotho but rather its consumption is up to an individual’s discretion.

“Who said the MPs use the money for the benefit of Basotho, from just mere observation? How many MPs ask questions or addresses issues concerning their constituencies in the House to show that they indeed interact with the people they represent? Not many, I think,” he said.

In November 2018, this publication carried a report that MPs reportedly demanded a 100 percent salary increment that would see their gross monthly salary increase to M74 000 each.

In 2021 Members of Parliament (MPs) threatened to block the year’s budget if government failed to increase their salaries, according to then finance minister Thabo Sofonea. Several backbenchers of then ruling All Basotho Convention-led coalition government allegedly played hardball by threatening to block the budget if government failed to increase their salaries to about M75 000 per month. An MP at the time earned slightly above M37 000 a month on top of a daily sitting allowance of M150 each.

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