MASERU – Speaker of the National Assembly, Sephiri Motanyane, has sent out a strong message to members of the opposition to respect and behave procedurally towards pressing matters of the House and not play around with serious national issues.
This, the Speaker said on Wednesday when members of opposition were trying to block the 2020/21 edition of the budget speech, insisting the budget would only pass after Prime Minister Mostoahae Thabane’s successor has been appointed.
Prime Minister Thabane, until last night (see our lead story on page 2) had fed a clear notion that he will step down in July or earlier. Members of the opposition resorted to several antics to block proceedings but failed to convince the Speaker to put the budget presentation on hold.
They referred to a letter written to the National Assembly by the human rights body, Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) seeking the budget’s postponement and more efforts put on government stabilisation as well as accelerating the succession process in order to stop political and economic uncertainties hurting development. The Speaker said that the petition came in late on Tuesday.
The TRC confirmed in an interview with Public Eye yesterday that they will take action regarding the issue but were not yet in a position to reveal their game plan.
Legislators also wanted the motion of no confidence that was earlier proposed by the Democratic Congress (DC) spokesperson, Serialong Qoo, against Prime Minister Thabane to take precedence over all the other business of the house.
The Speaker, however, ensured that the budget presentation went through, urging members of the opposition to behave.
“The budget is in the hands of parliamentarians and this is a very serious matter. We can play but let us be careful what we play with,” Motanyane warned on Wednesday. He cited that the motion will be brought to the House by the business committee today.
“It is true that the motion was submitted both to the clerk and to my office. The motion was approved and referred to the business committee so the motion will be brought into this House by the business committee and is no longer in my hands,” the Speaker added.
Deputy leader of the leading opposition party, DC, Motlalentoa Letsosa, noted shortly after the budget presentation that the Speaker was wrong to suggest that they were playing with important matters.
“It was wrong for him to suggest that we were not serious about the matter. We were raising our concerns to say it is totally wrong to pass the budget against the background that the sitting prime minister will be leaving office very soon. That uncertainty should be closely monitored,” Letsosa stated.
He said now that they have failed to prevent the presentation of the budget, they will go on to use similar antics in a few weeks’ time during the actual budget allocations.