MASERU — Finance Minister Timothy Thahane wants opposition MP Libe Moremoholo punished for allegations he made against him concerning the MKM saga.
The minister said Moremoholo had tarnished his image by alleging that he was using his ministerial powers to push for the liquidation of MKM.
He said parliament must discipline Moremoholo because his allegations did not only damage his reputation but that of the national assembly as well.
Thahane made the remarks in parliament on Wednesday while presenting a special report on the MKM saga which has dragged on for three years.
Moremoholo has been leading a campaign to pressure the government to intervene in the MKM case.
MKM was shut down in November 2007 for operating banking and insurance businesses without licences.
It sank with M400 million belonging to nearly 300 000 depositors.
A court case to decide the fate of the troubled company will resume on November 22 under a South African judge after the local bench showed consistent reluctance to handle the matter.
The Central Bank of Lesotho wants MKM liquidated but the company is fighting the move.
In the meantime Moremoholo has, together with other legislators, been waging a campaign to get the matter resolved politically.
Last month the All Basotho Convention youth leader, other opposition MPs and members of the public marched and handed a petition to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili demanding that he personally intervenes in the crisis.
The petition alleged that Thahane was frustrating efforts to resolve the MKM problems because he had a personal vendetta against the company.
It also alleged that Thahane was too compromised to deal with the matter because he was bitter that MKM boss, Simon Thebe-ea-Khale, had beaten him to a bid to buy the government’s Agricultural Development Bank building some years ago.
It is that petition as well other public statements that Moremoholo has made over the past few months that have angered Thahane.
The minister said Moremoholo must be disciplined because he was spreading false information about him.
The allegations in the petition were not true, he said.
“The Likhetlane No. 16 MP, Libe Moremoholo, and the people with whom he wrote this petition were not being truthful,” Thahane told parliament.
“As for me, my family and any of my relatives we have never entered in a bid to buy the Agricultural Development Bank building.”
He said because of Moremoholo’s statement the public now has the impression that he was the one blocking MKM’s efforts to refund investors.
And there are now people who allegedly want to kill him because they have been made to believe he is the stumbling block in the case, he added.
The minister said parliament must compel the MP to bring evidence to support the allegation he made about him bidding for the Agricultural Development Bank building.
“Failing which he should be made to stand before this house and be reprimanded for bringing this honourable house into disrepute by uttering statements whose truthfulness he was not sure of,” he said.
“This is how parliament disciplines its members who have gotten out of hand.”
Thahane said he had been reluctant to talk about MKM in parliament but Moremoholo’s campaign had forced him to address the issue.
He also said he had been forced to address the issue because some people allegedly wanted him killed because they believed he was the one blocking the release of their money from MKM.
“The behaviour of some delinquents who want me eliminated believing they would get their monies has forced me to do this,” Thahane said.
“The fact is even if I can be killed that will not make those who are owed to be paid because their money is not in my custody.
“I wish the entire Basotho nation to know that I dealt with these matters righteously, with self-sacrifice and used all my God-given skills.”
Thahane said Mosisili and his deputy Lesao Lehohla had tried to solve the MKM problem but failed.
A solution to the crisis can only come from the court, he said.
“I want the honourable MP for Likhetlane (Moremoholo) and his friends to know that this is not the government’s problem,” Thahane said.
“The problem lies with MKM and people who invested their monies with it without consulting the government.
“Therefore, the government can in no way take the responsibility to pay back monies that were invested illegally.”
Moremoholo however seemed unperturbed by Thahane’s calls for his censure.
“To me, he was just making a speech in parliament and I just listened as an MP but I do not regard that as a reply to our letter of grievances,” Moremoholo told the Sunday Express.
“Also, when he requested parliament to discipline me he should have shown which clause of the Parliament Standing Orders I had broken,” he added.
Moremoholo was adamant that he had not contravened any of the standing orders and that there was no need for parliament to discipline him.
He said parliament should follow the principle of natural justice by giving him a chance to reply to Thahane’s accusations in the House.
And for that response in parliament, Moremoholo said, he must be given the same amount of time as that accorded to Thahane when he addressed the House on Wednesday.