By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane
MASERU- Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) and the Basotho Covenant Movement (BCM) leaders, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane and Dr. Tšepo Lipholo respectively had on Monday filed a notice of motion to sponsor a bill that aims to impose restrictions on the contracts that the Members of Parliament (MPs) can enter into with the government.
The duo had asked the august house leave to bring “The Prohibition and Limitations of Prescribed Contracts between Members of Parliament and Government Bill, 2023″.
They want the house to grant them permission to bring forward to the house the private member’s Bill as per the provisions of the Standing Order No 52(1) with the proposed title “Prohibition and Limitations of Prescribed Contracts Between Members of Parliament and Government Bill 2023 : A Bill for an Act to limit and prohibit members of Parliament and Executive to have certain prescribed interests in government contracts that violate the letter and spirit of section 59(1)(e) of the Constitution and as such would have the effect of disqualifying a member from being elected or from continuing to hold office as a member of Parliament”.
If this Bill passes into a law, it will be difficult for the MPs to engage in business with the government.
Section 59 (1) (e) of the Constitution says “subject to such exceptions and limitations as may be prescribed by Parliament, has any such interest in any such government contract as may so be prescribed”.
According to Advocate Rakuoane, doing so creates a potential conflict of interest.
One of the duties of the MPs as they fall under the Legislature arm of government, is to hold the Executive accountable through exercising oversight function in the parliament.
Advocate Rakuoane who is also the former Minister is no stranger to sponsoring the private member’s Bill; it will be recalled that in 2020 he moved a private member’s Bill proposing amendment to the Constitution and it came to be known as the 9th Amendment to the Constitution which was assented into the law in May 2020.
Through this amendment, he proposed the curtailment of the Prime Minister’s powers when faced with a motion of no confidence. Adopted proviso to section 83(4) says when the National Assembly passes a motion of no confidence in the government, the sitting Prime Minister shall resign and not go to His Majesty the King to ask him to dissolve the parliament.
According to the amendment, “the Prime Minister shall not advise dissolution under this section unless the dissolution is supported by the resolution of two thirds majority of the Members of the National Assembly “.
The parliament’s Business Committee is yet to appoint a date that the motion proposing limitations of MPs contracts with the government will be tabled in the house for debate.