MASERU — Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane says former premier Pakalitha Mosisili must choose between receiving benefits due to a retired prime minister and representing his Tsoelike constituency in parliament.
‘Maseribane was addressing a rally at Thota-Moli that was attended by hundreds of youths cadres clad in their colourful regalia.
He said it was only prudent for Mosisili to decide if he wanted to resign from his constituency to enjoy the benefits of a retired prime minister or “relinquish those benefits and remain the Tsoelike MP”.
“You must decide what it is that you want. Are you representing Tsoelike or not? We have been humble, bestowed respect upon you by providing you with an official vehicle and bodyguards,” ‘Maseribane said.
“In spite of all this you still represent Tsoelike in parliament. I Thesele am opposed to it all. You must make a choice. Get ready to make a choice.”
Mosisili, who is the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) party leader, relinquished power last May after his party failed to form government.
Although he stepped down as premier after a 14-year stint at the helm of country he still held on to his parliamentary seat he won in the May 26 election.
’Maseribane said Mosisili should decide now what he wanted to be.
“It’s Basotho’s taxes paying for your upkeep and even on your birthday you have bodyguards providing you with security. Prepare yourself to make the ultimate choice,” he said.
’Maseribane, whose party is in a coalition with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) said they had been patient with Mosisili since last June when they assumed power because “we wanted to leave the responsibility to make a choice to him”.
“We’re not in a hurry because we want to see just how much you (Mosisili) respect yourself so that we can make a decision thereafter,” ‘Maseribane said.
’Maseribane also accused the previous government of wasting the public’s money by creating laws to take care of former leaders.
He then referred to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (Retirement and Spouses’ Benefits) Act, 2010 which provides for the former prime minister and deputy prime minister’s spouses to qualify for pensions by virtue of being married to these leaders.
He called for a review of the clause on the wives’ pensions.
The Act cites that the spouses are entitled to 25 percent gratuity on their monthly allowances after two years of their husbands’ tenure of office as compensation for giving up their professions to support their partners.
“People are saying that the clause addressing the pensions of the wives of the PM and DPM should not be reviewed because it was by the sirs (Mosisili’s administration),” ’Maseribane said.
“What are they saying? That we should shamelessly squander the public’s money and just lick our tongues afterwards?”
Opposition MPs in 2010 united in condemning the proposed Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (Retirement and Spouses’ Benefits) Bill 2010 after it was tabled in parliament in September that year.
The MPs told the Lesotho Times at the time that the Bill was “a nasty piece of legislation” aimed at extorting public funds.
They said the Bill was an unnecessary drain on the fiscus considering the recent global economic meltdown and Lesotho’s economic status.
Some MPs also argued the Bill was discriminatory as it did not extend a similar provision to ministers, MPs and civil servants. They said they will look at ways to ensure the Bill “is not discriminatory”.
The Bill argued that there was need to facilitate for the increment of the retirement benefits of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister “while extending the provision to their spouses as well”.
The Bill was nevertheless quickly passed, repealing the Prime Minister’s (Retirement and Benefits) Act, 1997, owing to the fact that Mosisili’s party at the time commanded the majority seats in parliament combined with those of its alliance partner the National Independent Party (NIP).
Speaking at a similar rally, Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo said the DC seemed to harbour the impression that it was a smarter political party than others for successfully having deputy leader Monyane Moleleki as official leader of the opposition in parliament despite the previous government denying Thabane a similar privilege in 2007.
According to Molapo, Thabane was denied the same privilege by the former national assembly speaker despite deserving “to be the official opposition leader as he had the support of the opposition”.
“But he has not been vengeful. He did not challenge Ntate Moleleki’s nomination as official leader of the opposition despite him not being the DC leader,” Molapo said.
“He thinks he’s smarter and that some of us know nothing about these issues.”
Among those who attended the rally were deputy health minister Dr Nthabiseng Makoae, party chairman ’Makhotso Mats’umunyane, deputy home affairs minister ’Malebitso Ralebitso and deputy secretary-general and incoming home affairs principal secretary Ranthomeng Matete.