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Gagged ABC MP fights back

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — All Basotho Convention (ABC) MP Libe Moremoholo says the attempt to gag him from speaking in parliament is politically motivated.

Moremoholo was banned from speaking in parliament or to the media after he was found guilty of leaking information from a report that had not yet been tabled by the parliamentary social cluster on health, social welfare and sports.

The ethics and privileges committee, which found him guilty last December, is yet to present its report to parliament for approval.

Until that happens Moremoholo can continue with his garrulous ways.

But in the meantime the ABC youth league leader has launched a counter attack.

He told the Sunday Express that the plan to gag him had been hatched by his political opponents in parliament.

There are people who want to destroy me politically, he alleges.

Asked who these “political opponents” were Moremoholo was noncommittal but said he recalled that Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla had warned him sometime last year that his demise was near.

“Sometime last year the leader of the House Ntate Lesao Lehohla left his seat in the National Assembly and came to the side of the opposition,” Moremoholo alleges. 

“He said to me: Moremoholo, I am devising a plan to trap you. Lithabaneng MP Ntate Motumi Ralejoe can attest to it.”

It was not possible to verify the MP’s allegations.

Moremoholo says the report had been compromised because some of the people who launched the complaint against him were also members of the ethics committee that found him guilty.

He said Tahleho Mabetha, a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) MP who made the formal complaint on behalf of the social cluster committee, was also part of the ethics committee which gagged him.

Serame Khampepe, whose National Independent Party is in an alliance with the LCD, also sat on the ethics committee even though he is a member of the social committee that complained, Moremoholo says.

“They are my accusers but have also had the privilege to judge me. This sets a very bad precedence.

“I wish to challenge human rights lawyers to analyse this case carefully,” he says.

“I am also, in the same breath, challenging media practitioners to look into the merits of this case because it seriously violates the rule of law.”

He added that if left as it is, the report would taint Lesotho’s image internationally as a country that “does not comply with the principles of democracy”.

“There are foreign organisations and embassies operating here in Lesotho which have shown interest in this case. Parliament should better deal with this matter fairly to preserve Lesotho’s good reputation.”

Moremoholo says he believes he is being punished for being “outspoken”.  

Moremoholo insists that even after the report is approved he will continue to speak in parliament and to the media because the decision violates his right to freedom of expression.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Sephiri Motanyane, said although the report is yet to be tabled it would be better for Moremoholo to show some contrition.

“I don’t know what he means by saying that he does not care because a decision has not yet been made. The most elegant thing would have been for him to keep quiet and wait,” Motanyane said.

“I don’t know whether he is trying to influence the decision which is still to be reached by parliament.”

A fortnight ago this paper reported that opposition parties were planning to gang up against the ethics committee report when it is presented in parliament.

The opposition said the report that Moremoholo is accused of leaking was never written in the first place.

They also believe the decision was too harsh.

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