THE Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) has slammed members of parliament (MPs) for awarding themselves M5000 each per month as fuel allowances.
The new fuel windfall came into effect in the current financial year which began on 1 April 2021.
Although the fuel allowances represent a huge climbdown by the MPs who had last year demanded 100 percent salary increments which would see each of them take home a whooping M75 000 per month, the public and the CCL are unhappy with the “greedy” MPs.
In a statement this weekend, the CCL described the MPs as “heartless and selfish” for corruptly misusing public funds to enrich themselves instead of spending the money on addressing more pressing national concerns.
“We were shocked to learn on 22 March 2021 that MPs demanded hefty fuel allowances of M5000 each per month when there are other pressing matters in this country which are sidelined,” the CCL said in its statement.
“What is it that these MPs cannot achieve with their already hefty salaries that they felt it necessary to issue themselves this amount of money on a monthly basis?”
The CCL further accused the MPs of corruption and alleged that they had not shown any remorse for their conduct.
“Corruption and misuse of the nation’s funds without any remorse is an embarrassment. The MPs should return these monies as what they are doing portrays their greed and it is an embarrassment to the nation.”
The CCL said the MPs’ argument that their salaries were less than their South African counterparts should be dismissed on the grounds that the conditions in the two countries could not be compared. South Africa has a much bigger gross domestic product than Lesotho whose annual budget of just over M23 billion is only comparable to some of the big companies in the neighbouring countries.
The council said service delivery in Lesotho could not be compared to South Africa. It further accused the MPs of ignoring the plight of the poor especially during these times of the Covid-19 pandemic while focusing on self-enrichment.
“To cover for their voracity of recklessly spending the nation’s money, the MPs went on radio and newspapers to say their salaries and allowances are less than what MPs get in South Africa. We cannot be comparing the two countries.
“Unemployment is still a scourge in this country which we are still waiting for the MPs to fix without nepotism. We are still far from ensuring justice is served because of the lack of necessary tools in the courts of law.
“Orphans, widows and the disabled are totally sidelined…
“Schools have reopened but there hasn’t been any personal protective equipment (PPE) given to the schools. What does this say about the health of the children and teachers during this time. Aren’t they supposed to be thought of and their welfare considered like the MPs who are only thinking of themselves?
“This insult to the nation (by the MPs) is happening when the world is faced with Covid-19 and there have not been any clear strategies on how the nation will be protected during this pandemic,” the CCL said in its statement.
This is not the first time the MPs in the current parliament have demanded hefty perks for themselves. They first made salary demands in November 2018.
At the time, the MPs, who are also lavished with a number of perks including M500 000 interest free loans, also demanded that they be eligible for pensions after serving for only two years in the House. They are presently only eligible for pensions after serving two five-year terms.
The MPs even coerced the then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane into ordering his then Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro to establish an inter-ministerial team to consider a revised salary structure for them. Dr Majoro succeeded Mr Thabane on 20 May 2020 and a month later, he too was presented with the salary demands.
They even demanded official funerals even if they died after their terms had ended.
A massive outcry from the public and analysts, who described the MPs’ demands as “heartless and selfish”, eventually forced the MPs and the government to abandon the proposals to award the legislators salary increments.