Lesotho: More Blood Will Be Shed in Parliament - Mochoboroane

ABC leader Prime Minister Tom Thabane.
10 December 2019

Opposition Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader Selibe Mochoboroane has warned of more bloody clashes in parliament if the wool and mohair regulations are not amended.

The opposition has been fighting a spirited battle to have wool and mohair regulations introduced by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's coalition to restrict farmers from selling their wool and mohair to their selected buyers from wherever they want scrapped.

Addressing a rally at Ha-Makhalanyane in Thaba-Bosiu this week, the MEC leader said parliament had lost its power and independence to the executive and urged Basotho to fight to restore its integrity. His statements followed nasty clashes in parliament last Thursday in which he sustained a head injury for which he had to seek medical help.

A fierce brawl erupted during the Thursday parliamentary session after deputy speaker of parliament Teboho Lehloenya moved to suspend two MPs -- Leli Tampane and Serialong Qoo -- for rowdy behaviour in the House.

Opposition MPs had been angered by the government's failure to table proposed amendments to its restrictive wool and mohair regulations. They then resorted to disrupting proceedings.

Immense chaos followed and the various MPs started exchanging blows and trashing furniture. In the ensuing ruckus, Agriculture and Food Security minister Litšoane Litšoane was hit on the head and landed on the floor.

By the time the melee ended, Messrs Litšoane and Mochoboroane were bleeding from head injuries.

And addressing his supporters this week, Mr Mochoboroane said they should not be ashamed of what had happened because he was injured while fighting to deliver a mandate that they had given him.

He said MEC members should be proud because he did not get injured during some illicit dealings but safeguarding their interests.

"We were fighting over wool and mohair, a battle which we have consistently fought against this atrocious government... " Mr Mochoboroane said.

"This issue should not tire you; we are going to fight... If it means more bloodshed or dying for it; so be it," an irate Mochoboroane said.

"I did not get injured for an extra marital affair, nor did I get injured at another man's house. Therefore, you should stand with your heads held up high because I got injured while executing the duties you have entrusted me with as your leader."

He said that Parliament had lost its independence and was now being run by government. He accused Speaker of Parliament Sephiri Motanyane and his deputy Mr Lehloenya of being captured by the executive.

This after Mr Motanyane threw out a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane a fortnight ago. He ruled that the motion did not meet "procedural and constitutional requirements" for it to be accepted. He said the motion ought to have been filed by the opposition and not by the ABC's Motebang Koma. He also said the motion was flawed in that it proposed another ABC legislator Sam Rapapa as the caretaker prime minister instead of an opposition leader.

Mr Lehloenya, the deputy speaker, was blamed for the chaos that obtained in parliament last Thursday. Deputy DC leader Motlalentoa Letsosa said the chaos had been caused by Mr Lehloenya's "arrogance".

"The incident was caused by the deputy speaker (Mr Lehloenya)'s arrogance and it could have been avoided.

"So many people stood on a point of order but he had only singled out Ntate Qoo and 'M'e Likeleli (for censure)," Lehloenya told the Lesotho Times' sister paper, the Sunday Express.

And Mr Mochoboroane said this was a sign that the speakers had been captured by the executive. He however, said they would continue to fight for their constituents even if they were to be killed in parliament.

He said when he accepted the mandate to become a leader, he also accepted the dangers that come with the job.

Mr Mochoboroane accused both Messrs Motanyane and Lehloenya of holding the country hostage by protecting the ruling government even when it was so obvious that it had lost the numbers in parliament and was set to lose the no confidence motion.

"Even when they see that the government has lost numbers and is on the edge of a cliff, they seem to have decided to do everything they can to protect this dirty government," Mr Mochoboroane said of Messrs Motanyane and Lehloenya.

"It defies logic that when a motion of no confidence is filed, he (Mr Motanyane) seeks the legal opinion from the Attorney General (AG) and then decides not to abide by it.

"The constitution provides that any Member of Parliament can file a motion of no confidence despite the side they fall on but the Speaker decides to ignore that. He decides to misdirect himself and misuses his power when he sees that the government is capsizing.

"He is afraid to test the government's numbers but he should know that they can run but they cannot hide. He (the Speaker) will not win in the end because the time for the budget will come and he will not be able to protect the government then," Mr Mochoboroane said, in reference to a plan by the MPs to refuse to pass the budget until the no confidence motion is tabled.

He described Mr Lehloenya, as being worse than his boss when it came to breaking the law because of how the deputy speaker had handled the suspension of Mr Qoo and Ms Tampane from the House and how he had in turn used the police to block them from entering Parliament.

Mr Mochoboroane said he was not afraid to fight until the country is emancipated. He said he would never be intimidated into retreating from fighting for the causes his party believed in.

"I will never flee this country... Whoever wants to arrest me shall find me here."

He also thanked other opposition parties for their consistency in calling for the scrapping of the wool and mohair regulations.

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