MASERU — All Basotho Convention (ABC) legislator Libe Moremoholo could have been punished for leaking contents of a “report” that was never written in the first place.
“That so-called report does not exist in any written form,” the Lesotho Workers Party MP and deputy leader Sello Maphalla said last week.
Maphalla sits together with Moremoholo in the parliamentary social cluster committee on health, social welfare and sports whose report the ethics committee said Moremoholo had leaked to the media before it was tabled.
Last month the ethics committee banned Moremoholo from speaking in parliament or to the media for 12 months after it found him guilty of leaking information in a parliamentary committee report before it was tabled in the august House.
The report was on the state of Lesotho’s sporting facilities, according to a complaint that the social cluster committee on health, social welfare and sports submitted to the ethics committee to get Moremoholo charged.
Maphalla however told the Sunday Express that the purported report does not exist.
It was never written and we never wrote it as a committee, he said on Friday.
Maphalla said the assessment of the sporting facilities was completed “sometime around April last year but the truth of the matter is that no report was ever written”.
“I challenge anyone who has a copy of that report or has written it to bring it forward,” he added.
“As a committee we never wrote such a report so it’s shocking that Moremoholo is being punished for leaking information from a report that does not exist in any form.”
“They say the report had not been tabled when Moremoholo allegedly leaked the information but the real question is: was that report was ever compiled? Where was it tabled? Can the person who wrote it produce it?”
Maphalla said he believed there was a broader political agenda to muzzle Moremoholo and the opposition as a whole.
“This thing has its own agenda that has nothing to do with a non-existent report.”
He said opposition MPs are already mobilising to challenge the decision when parliament resumes in February.
“The LWP discussed the issue on Thursday afternoon and decided that they will fight the decision tooth and nail”, he said adding that “efforts to mobilise support from other parties have started”.
The basis of the opposition’s challenge to the decision will be that:
- The report whose content Moremoholo is alleged to have leaked to the press does not exist;
- Banning Moremoholo from speaking in parliament and to the media violates his constitutional right to freedom of expression;
- The opposition believes the gag is reminiscent of the Order Number 4 which was issued by the military government in the late 80s to ban political activity;
- The parliament’s standing orders do not have a provision that allows the ethics committee to ban an MP from speaking in parliament or to the media;
- The gag denies Moremoholo’s constituency of its right to be represented in parliament;
- Silencing the MP while forcing him to attend all parliamentary sessions is a waste of public funds because he will still be paid his salary and allowances even if he doesn’t say a word. The opposition believes Moremoholo will be paid for doing nothing the whole year.