Africa-Press – Lesotho. The National Assembly has on Thursday last week halted the debate on the motion which sought to have the parliament have powers to ratify international
instruments which Lesotho commits to, in particular those with long term financial bearing. This is after Alliance of Democrats (AD) proportional representative Hon.
Kose Makoa moved the adjournment of the motion to allow further engagements with Hon. Mosena and proper framing to clear “ambiguity” or ratification. Member
of Parliament (MP) Hon. ‘Matlhonolofatso Tšepang Tšita-Mosena had moved a motion that the House be armed with powers to ratify all international treaties, conventions and agreements, public debt
acquisitions, mining agreements and concessions, public-private partnership (PPP) agreements and other agreements that will commit the government to long-term debt.
Hon. Mosena argues that the portfolio committees should not only monitor the usage of government funds but also know the sources, binding terms and how they are
used. “As MPs, some of us are assigned to represent parliament in regional bodies,” she said adding that if they are not well capacitated they are unable to debate in
discussions or they are susceptible to offer their personal or party opinions which could run parallel from the country’s position in the matter under
discourse. Mosena further argued that the treaties entered into on behalf of the government commit the parliament to run their oversight responsibility on them.
She also showed that there is a “gap” on the domestication of international instruments, and parliament fails to easily support legalization for harmonization requests to implement on those commitments.
She further indicated that if the parliament is clothed with powers to ratify, she is of the view that it will be easier for the legislature to appropriate more
funds whenever needed by the concerned Ministry. She made an anecdote wherein Lesotho has entered into a general agreement on the schedule of agreements under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which
replicated that of South Africa but warned it was not a beneficial move for Lesotho’s private sector which is less economically advanced than SA. Taking
stock on public debt acquisition, she quoted the recent Auditor General’s report, which says: “The public debt is a major government liability and key
sustainability issue for the Government of Lesotho. There was an expansion of debt during the year, despite active debt servicing. On the whole, the debt
portfolio magnitude has increased significantly ending at M19.321 billion on 31 March 2020, which was 22% higher than the previous figure on M15.870 billion…”
She submitted that parliament now has the responsibility to own this loan. Mosena also touched on the controversial Solar Frazer deal allegedly entered into
between this company and Lesotho arguing that the situation involving this “contract” has put the country at ransom despite parliament’s non-participation.
Tšepong as a PPP model was cited as another example of commitment to debt that had become too expensive without full transparency. Seconding the motion, the Basotho Action Party (BAP)’s Member of Parliament (MP) for
Berea No. 27 Hon. Motlatsi Maqelepo said the parliament is an organ of state which is charged with the responsibility to provide checks and balances it
ought to be empowered to endorse agreements and loans which concern funds coming into the country. Usually when loans are incurred the process involves the Ministers of Finance and
Planning who after discussing the modalities take the matter up with the Cabinet for endorsement, arguing that the parliament should also be involved.
“This is a standard practice across the board,” he charged adding that many countries have since adopted this policy. This motion is postponed to the date yet to be established by the house.