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Committee wants number of MPs increased to 140

Bongiwe Zihlangu


MASERU — The Parliamentary Reforms Committee (PRC) wants the Senate and National Assembly to be expanded.

Minutes of the PRC sub-committee sitting on September 22 show that the committee wants the Senate to be expanded to a staggering 70 members.

The upper house currently has 33 members, 22 of whom are principal chiefs who are automatic members by virtue of their title.

The other 11 members of the Senate are nominated by King Letsie III “on the advice of the Council of the State”.

The committee also wants legislators in the National Assembly to be increased from the current 120 to 140.

“The National Assembly should also constitute eighty (80) representatives elected from constituencies and sixty (60) candidates elected using Proportional Representation Model,” reads part of the minutes.

The recommendations are part of the PRC’s draft report on bicameralism that is yet to be presented to parliament.

The PRC was chaired by Kabelo Mafura who was recently appointed forestry minister.

Other members of the committee are former labour minister Refiloe Masemene, All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, Lesotho Workers Party leader Macaefa Billy and a committee clerk only identified as T Tau.

The committee has proposed that the two principal chiefs from the Baphuthing and Amaxhoza tribes along with two other chiefs from Mohale’s Hoek district should be incorporated into the Senate.

The committee says among those to be included in the upper house should be 20 representatives, two each from the country’s 10 districts.

It also says 12 members elected via the proportional representation model should be initiated into the Senate.

Thabane admitted the committee had submitted such a report.

“The recommendations were made and adopted by the committee,” Thabane told the Sunday Express yesterday.

“But they are yet to be presented to parliament. Only then will know if they are successful.

“But I must add that I am optimistic about them passing because all members of the committee worked in harmony and all agreements were unanimous.”

Thabane said there was no reason why there should be a problem regarding the expansion of the Senate.

“I believe whoever suggested that the Senate be increased simply wanted the inclusion of ordinary people for purposes of variety,” he said.

“My main worry lies with the suggestion that proportional representation MPs be incorporated into the Senate.

“We need neutral and level-headed people with no agendas in there. I mean people with no ambitions for power.”

Thabane however said he had reservations about increasing the size of the National Assembly from 120 to 140 members because of the financial implications.

“It is going to be very costly for parliament if that were to happen,” he said.

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