MASERU — The All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s controversial MP Libe Moremoholo has been slapped with a 12-month gag order not to speak to the media.
The order comes after the parliamentary portfolio committee on ethics and privileges found the vocal ABC youth leader guilty of revealing contents of a committee report before it was tabled before parliament.
As part of his punishment Moremoholo will not be allowed to address Parliament on any issue for the whole year.
He has also been ordered to attend every session of parliament.
During all the sessions he will keep his mouth shut or risk further punishment according to the ethics committee’s ruling delivered last Friday.
If he is not able to attend any session, Moremoholo will have to seek permission from the Speaker of Parliament first, the ethics committee said.
Moremoholo’s troubles emanate from information that he gave the Lesotho Times and the Sunday Express about the social cluster portfolio committee’s assessment of the Setsoto Stadium and the Bambatha Ts’ita Sports Arena earlier this year.
He is a member of the same committee.
Moremoholo told the Lesotho Times after a tour that the Setsoto Stadium was in a sorry state despite being renovated by the government at a cost of M80 million.
Around the same time Moremoholo told the Sunday Express the same committee was not happy with the state of the Bambatha Ts’ita Sports Arena which had remained in a sorry state despite the fact that Fifa had donated US$503 535 towards its renovation.
Moremoholo volunteered the information to the two newspapers and spoke on record.
The chairperson of the social cluster’s chairperson Tahleho Mabetha then launched a complaint with the ethics committee.
He told the committee that the MP should not have spoken to the two newspapers about the committee’s reports before they were tabled in Parliament.
Moremoholo had no right to speak to the media about the portfolio committee’s business because he does not lead it, Mabetha said in his complaint to the ethics committee.
He said Moremoholo “had no right to publish any information prior to the tabling of the report before the House”.
Mabetha also accused Moremoholo of revealing “some of the issues that were yet to be tabled before the House.”
He also said Moremoholo’s “intention was to tarnish the image of the Committee and Parliament at large.”
During the hearing Moremoholo denied that he spoke on behalf of the committee when he gave the interviews to the two papers.
The information he gave to the two papers, Moremoholo argued, was his personal opinion.
He insisted he had a right to express his opinion.
The ethics committee, however, found that Moremoholo had “undermined the work of the committee and showed dishonesty” when he gave the interviews.
It then slapped him with the media gag.
The ban means Moremoholo will not be able to contribute to parliamentary debates.
He could however still raise issues through another MP.
There are hushed complaints from opposition MPs who say the punishment imposed on Moremoholo was “too harsh”.
“The punishment renders him almost useless in Parliament. Of course he can still vote but what use is an MP who can’t raise issues and contribute to debate in parliament,” said an MP who requested not to be named because he was afraid he could “get in trouble with the ethics committee”.