By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The issue of the parliamentary budget has recently been in the spotlight again as the debate over the executive providing resources to this oversight organ has intensified.

Among the three organs of the State—the Judiciary, the Legislature, and the Executive—the Executive allocates the budget for the other two to undertake their mandates.

The Speaker tells the House this last Friday after the All Basotho Convention (ABC) proportional representation (PR) member Hon Montoeli Masoetsa expresses concern regarding the low budget, which impedes them from effectively conducting their oversight role.

Masoetsa further calls on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to introspect, complaining about rulings that sometimes bar parliament committees to investigate the conduct of government agencies and ministries.

There have been ongoing debates that the Legislature and Judiciary receive lower budgets despite being equal in standing to the Executive.

The Speaker says he has taken notice of this and other issues.

“As the parliament, we are in the process of enacting the law that will see it ably perform its functions. One of the fundamental duties of Parliament is to provide oversight to the executive. The executive faces the challenge of allocating a budget to Parliament, which legally provides oversight on it,” he says.

Sekhamane says he has studied the budget allocated to the parliament.

For the financial year 2024/2025 the National Assembly has been allocated the sum of M103, 776, 792 almost four times to what the Upper House has received, which is M26, 509,492.

He says at some point the members of parliament (MPs) as they exercise their oversight functions on committees, should be able to engage experts to verify and ascertain the authenticity and of some things such as engaging accountants and architects to carry out assessments on construction projects.

The Speaker stresses: “So you need the budget to pay experts, be it accountants, architects or engineers. And when you do that, you are performing the oversight function”.

He notes that the very minister over whom they perform an oversight function could withhold resources from parliament at any time, especially when they are about to investigate the work of his portfolio.

He points out that there is a “contradiction” that needs to be addressed in order for the parliament to have a “modicum of autonomy”, promising that they are working on this issue “maturely”.

“We will address this issue to ensure the government of Lesotho runs smoothly. As long as the executive determines how much the parliament is to be allocated each year, there will always be a problem.

“We will address this issue maturely. I am working on it constructively, and maturely it will fix this and many other issues,” he underscores.