Opposition speak on budget expectations
- we will not vote for the budget until Thabane goes says NIP leader
Bereng Mpaki / Ntsebeng Motsoeli
NATIONAL Independent Party (NIP) leader, Kimetso Mathaba says his party will not vote for the 2021/2020 budget until Prime Minister Thomas Thabane vacates the office because of the murder charges hanging over him and his wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane.
Dr Thabane and ‘Maesaiah have been charged with the 14 June 2017 murder of the premier’s former wife, Lipolelo, and he has already announced that he will be stepping down at the end of July 2020 due to old age.
However, Mr Mathaba is not prepared to wait that long. The NIP leader on Friday told the Sunday Express that his party would mobilise other opposition parties to vote against the budget speech as part of efforts to force Dr Thabane to leave immediately. Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro is expected to deliver the 2020/21 budget speech in parliament on Wednesday.
Mr Mathaba said it would be wrong for parliament to approve the budget and have it administered by a government by a murder suspect.
“We would be doing the nation an injustice if we release the public funds to be handled under the leadership of someone who has a murder charge hanging over them,” Mr Mathaba said, adding the murder allegations tainted the image of the country.
“We need a clean prime minister not a criminal suspect to run this country’s affairs. Murder is a serious crime and we will not allow him to handle the public funds until he is proven innocent, that is if he is.
“The Prime Minister must leave. We cannot have a murder suspect leading the government. He must leave the office regardless of whether he is guilty or not. The murder charge alone is enough to have sent Ntate Thabane packing. Any self-respecting person would have left the office and the house until the legal processes are over.”
Mr Mathaba said the government must come up with a budget to address fundamental issues such job creation for youths, infrastructure development in order to stimulate economic recovery and growth.
He said the government had not shown much enthusiasm in the implementation of the environmental catchment programmes which were meant to absorb unemployed youths and give them work experience.
He called on government to give civil servants salary increments to cushion them against inflation as well as motivate them to do their work to the best of their ability.
Mr Mathaba said government should also allocate funds to pay the wool and mohair farmers who are yet to receive payments for the sale of their produce from the Lesotho Wool Centre (LWC) for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Mr Mathaba, who led a parliamentary committee to investigate the impact of the controversial 2018 wool and mohair regulations, said over 600 farmers were still to be paid.
“The farmers are frustrated. They want their money paid to them. The wool and mohair committee had given the LWC a month to have processed those payments and recommended that government takes over if they (LWC) fail. People have not been paid and I get calls almost every day from people who desperately need their money. So, as the committee had recommended, we will push the government to pay those balances on behalf of the LWC so that people can get their lives back on track,” Mr Mathaba said.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Congress’ Mashai constituency legislator, Tšoeu Mokeretla, wants the budget to address high unemployment in the country.
“I expect the Finance Minister to address the issue of high unemployment but I don’t have confidence in him anymore because he has spoken about this before without implementing it.
“Last year they committed to creating 8 000 jobs for youths of the country but it now looks as though this was just a political statement that was meant to calm down impatient people. Toying with the people’s minds like that is very unfortunate.
“I also think it important for the government to address the teachers’ salary grievances but I doubt if they will do any differently from last year, especially because those grievances need financial resources and we know that our country is drowning in financial challenges,” said the legislator.
Movement for Economic Change’s (MEC) deputy leader Tšepang Tšita-Mosena, said they would like to see earnest implementation of the budget proposals that are tabled by the finance minister.
“We expect the budget speech to be turned into concrete government policy. We are frustrated by the endless proposals made by the minister (Dr Majoro) which are never fulfilled such as the reduction of government spending. Instead, they continue to misuse public funds.
“We also want the minister to address the issue of payments of government suppliers. If the government is the biggest consumer of goods and services and it fails to pay suppliers on time, it means we are doing something very wrong.
She also said the government must allocate enough resources towards addressing challenges within the education sector and for the procurement of medical supplies for the health sector.
Comments are closed.