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Controversy in parliament

Business

Staff Reporter

In a plot straight out of a political drama, the parliamentary circles have been buzzing with the recent exchange of letters over the “second special meeting of the eleventh parliament” that was slated for Monday next week.

The source of the commotion was the short-lived National Assembly Circular No.3 of 2023, which sparked more questions than answers.

Penned by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Advocate Lebohang Fine Maema, Circular No.3 sent ripples of excitement and confusion throughout the political landscape.

Dated July 27, 2023, the circular notified Members of Parliament (MPs) of the scheduled meeting on August 7.

“I am directed to inform you that the Second Special Meeting of the Eleventh Parliament of the Kingdom of Lesotho will be held at the New Parliament Building Maseru, on Monday 7th August 2023 at 2 pm in terms of Standing Order No.14(2),” Maema wrote.

The circular initiated a rollercoaster ride of parliamentary intrigue.

Like a detective hot on the trail, Mathibeli Mokhothu, the leader of the opposition, wasted no time in scrutinising the circular.

In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Tlohang Sekhamane, on Monday this week, Mokhothu raised a cacophony of concerns over the circular’s irregular nature.

With all the finesse of a seasoned interrogator, he pointed out the apparent breach of the 14-day notice requirement, cleverly citing Standing Order No.14(2) as his ammunition.

“In the first place, the 14 days’ notice as stated in Standing Order No.14(2) has not been complied with,” he said.

An Emergency or Just Politics?

But Mokhothu did not stop there. He delved deeper into the mystery, questioning the Speaker’s potential “emergency” justification for the meeting.

“In reference to the Honourable Speaker’s presumed decision to consider this meeting to be an emergency, we wish to advise that he be mindful of the use of the word ‘emergency’, in view of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, with regard to the recall of the 10th Parliament,” he said.

Mokhothu is the leader of the main opposition, the Democratic Congress (DC), and a former Deputy Prime Minister.

To add fuel to the fire, he cunningly questioned the very legitimacy of this so-called “second special meeting”.

He said: “Furthermore, the circular refers to this as the second special meeting. To our knowledge, the only legitimate special meeting we are aware of, by practice and tradition, is that of the swearing-in of the Speaker (It is special because it is the only time that Members can transact business before being sworn in).

“It is therefore not clear why this qualifies as a special meeting. Based on the foregoing, we urge the Honourable Speaker to revisit the circular and rectify the flaws therein.”

Speaker Throws in the Towel

Responding to the onslaught of questions, the beleaguered Speaker, Sekhamane, made a surprise move – he withdrew Circular No.3 of 2023 entirely.

“I wish to thank you heartily for your unrelenting willingness to get things done properly,” Sekhamane said in a letter on Tuesday.

He conceded that the said Circular No.3 did not disclose the nature of the business to be transacted.

“In fact, that circular is being withdrawn altogether until further notice, as you will see from Circular No.4 of 2023, here with attached,” he said.

The cited Circular No.4 written by Maema on Tuesday read: “I am directed to inform you that the National Assembly Circular No.3 of 2023 is being withdrawn with immediate effect until further notice.”

As the dust settles from this thrilling exchange of letters, Members of Parliament anxiously await further communication from Maema that will reveal of the planned meeting’s true purpose.

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