MASERU — Democratic Congress MPs Ponts’o Sekatle and Lineo Molise-Mabusela yesterday gave Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing a tough time in parliament demanding that he assures Basotho that civil servants affiliated to the former ruling party will not be sacked.
So insistent were the former local government minister and former home affairs assitant minister with their line of questioning that Speaker of Parliament, Sephiri Motanyane, had to chip in to defend Metsing.
Motanyane told them off, saying their questions were out of line as they were hypothetical adding that parliamentary standing orders had a code of questions to be asked in parliament.
The spectacle began after Metsing had delivered a humble address of the speech delivered by King Letsie III last month when the eighth Parliament convened for the first time after the May 26 election.
In his conclusion, Metsing suggested that his becoming leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) had ushered in a new era of peace and harmony in Lesotho.
To this Molise-Mabusela demanded to know the kind of peace Metsing was referring to if cabinet ministers of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the LCD were sending some civil servants home “because they are not comfortable working with them”.
“May I humbly ask what kind of peace you’re saying you’ve bought for Basotho if some ministers are telling some people to stay at home because they are uncomfortable working with them?” Molise-Mabusela asked.
“What kind of peace are you referring to when people are no longer at liberty to choose their supervisors for poverty-alleviation projects (lifato-fato)?”
Metsing then told Molise-Mabusela through Motanyane, that he had on several occasions already made clear that the coalition government was firm on its stance that “we will not be compromising people’s jobs”.
“I made that clear even more recently when I was in TY that no Mosotho national is going to lose their job. We have not formulated a policy to fire people,” Metsing said.
Sekatle then stood up to speak, asking Metsing as to how he could assure Basotho as the local government minister that no people would be told to hit the highroad.
“After more than 20 years of the BNP rule and seven years of military rule, the BCP assumed power in 1993 and no structures of the civil service were tampered with,” Sekatle said.
“No one was told to hit the highroad. How can you as the local government minister today assure us that there won’t be any changes in the local councils? What should we expect?”
Metsing told her that when a new government assumes power “it will have its own policies and vision”.
“But the one thing we can’t do is fire people simply because we want to fill those spaces with others. If you find a civil servant elsewhere tomorrow, do not be shocked. It’s just work,” Metsing said.
“Ours is to win elections in 2017 and that we will achieve based on our service delivery performance. What is of utmost importance to us is to deliver services to our people.”
To this Sekatle asked what should be expected because Metsing’s implication that she should not be shocked if she found some people redeployed “is pregnant with something big”.
It was at this juncture that Motanyane interjected to shield Metsing from more questions from Sekatle adding that the DPM “should not have answered that”.
“You shouldn’t have asked that question because it is hypothetical. There are questions that should not be asked in this House as per our standing orders,” Motanyane said.
However, Metsing told Sekatle the coalition government’s responsibility was “to protect the vulnerable”.
“I’ve made it clear that our stance is to protect the weak and ensure that civil servants do not feel their jobs are on the line. Please be advisers instead of always opposing,” Metsing said.