Senate president calls for autonomous parly

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Pascalinah Kabi

SENATE president ‘Mamonaheng Mokitimi says Lesotho needs an autonomous parliament that will be able to effectively discharge its oversight functions over the executive.

Delivering her opening remarks at the second meeting of the first session of the 10th parliament this week, Ms Mokitimi said there was an urgent need to have an autonomous parliament “that will be able to effectively discharge its oversight functions over the executive,” Ms Mokitimi said, adding that this can be achieved by remaining vigilant throughout the national reform process.

Lesotho committed to constitutional, judiciary, security, public service and media reforms that were recommended by the 2015 Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry.

The SADC Commission of Inquiry that was headed by retired Botswana judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, was set up after the then Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, asked SADC to probe the fatal shooting of former Lesotho Defence Force commander Maaparankoe Mahao.

Lt-Gen Mahao was fatally shot by fellow soldiers on 25 June 2015 just outside Maseru. The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) subsequently announced Lt-Gen Mahao was resisting arrest when he was killed, which the family has dismissed as untrue.

The Mahao family accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.

After the killing, the-then Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili asked SADC to help establish the circumstances surrounding the incident, resulting in a Commission of Inquiry.

The 10-member commission carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015 and recommended, among other things, that government should investigate the killing and prosecute those found to be responsible.

It also recommended that then LDF commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli be relieved of his duties “in the interest of restoring trust and acceptance of the LDF to the Basotho nation”.

Lt-Gen Kamoli was eventually retired in December 2016.

The SADC Commission also recommended the multi-sector reforms.

And this week, Ms Mokitimi reminded senators that the reforms process was no longer wishful thinking but an order from both King Letsie III and the regional bloc.

In another development, Ms Mokitimi urged senators who were appointed to ministerial positions to shun corruption and prioritise service delivery, saying the electorate had voted for effective service delivery.

“This house went on a break on 10 August this year after successfully passing the Appropriation Bill of 2017 and it is now time for us to vigilantly oversee that public funds are used for the intended purpose only,” Ms Mokitimi said.

She said negotiations with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport for the construction of senate building were at advanced stage and that it was their hope the building would soon be constructed.

Senate is currently using the old parliament building for its sittings.

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