By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane
MASERU – The members of opposition and some from the government side have expressed dissatisfaction over the adjournment of the National Assembly sine die, that is without a specific date for resumption.
On Monday this week the Leader of the House who is the Deputy Prime Minister Justice Nthomeng Majara moved that the august house adjourns sine die to allow members to engage in summer cropping and check the elderly in their constituencies.
She further said this adjournment will give the parliament’s committees to work on the reforms process. This after the Court of Appeal negated the Standing Order No 105 B that says the house can reinstate the work from where it was when the previous parliament life ended.
“Procedurally and according to the almanac of the parliament the last week of November or early week of December, this august house usually goes for recess, as I hereby do move,” the Justice Majara moved.
She said the work of the parliament will be continuing from the committees urging the members to exercise patience and be dedicated in dealing with the reforms.
However, some members were unhappy about the government’s move to adjourn the parliament asking what is it that they were going to report back to the electorates at the constituencies as there was no much work that the 11th parliament has so far done.
Seconding the Leader of the House, Minister of Health Hon Selibe Mochoboroane showed that every time the parliament had to work on the reforms something came up. In winter the parliament was convened on a special sitting to deal with the reforms work but there was a court case instituted to counter this move, leading to the parliament to close while awaiting the court’s decision over the matter.
When the constitutional court had ruled that the parliament can move on with the work of the reforms, there was another case challenging such decision in the apex court and the petitioner, Kananelo Boloetse won – the ruling whose implication warrants that the National Reforms Authority’s (NRA) report on the reforms to be reintroduced in the house.
Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane rose to challenge the motion to adjourn the house, saying it was “out of order”.
His bone of contention was that, as MPs (members of parliament) they received the notice on Friday late indicating that the house will on Monday adjourn sine die and said due to gravity of that motion at least there ought to have been a day in between to allow members to debate it before being tabled.
He quoted the Standing Order 18 (2) which reads thus “A member who wishes to raise a matter under the provisions of paragraph (1) of this Standing Order shall give notice of the matter in writing to the Speaker not less than one clear day before the sitting at which it is intended to do so, but the Speaker has the discretion to dispense with the written notice.”
Addressing his point of order, the Deputy Speaker Hon Tšepang Tšita-Mosena said according to the Standing Orders and parliament’s enduring administrative processes said when the calculation of days is made Saturdays are taken into account as working days but no account is taken for Sundays or public holidays unless the house had convened.
“In calculating a period of a day or days made in this standing order, account shall be taken for Saturdays but no account shall be taken for a Sunday or a public holiday unless the house sits on that Sunday or that public holiday,” she read to the members adding that the day has been served accordingly.
Rising on a point of order, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) Hon Nkaku Kabi asked the house on what they say to Basotho, instead there are only arguments that they made whereas they should be reporting that they have created employment of the public.
Members against the motion felt it was early for the house to adjourn saying the government can hold the houses while national issues are addressed.
Some members of the parties in government have vocalized this disappointment in government in media accusing it of lack of urgency and interest in addressing problems that have bedeviled the country such as homicides and rape.
Also, member of opposition, Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Hon Machesetsa Mofomobe rose “acknowledging” the adjournment but cautioned that it is late for summer cropping, and the farmers have experienced challenges with acquiring the farming inputs promised by the government.
“At my home there is a crisis, there is an arrangement made that farmers should buy data for the extension workers to assess how much fertilizer will be needed for their fields, just imagine my 90 year old father having to go to the extension worker with the data,” he marveled.