PARLIAMENT will reopen next month with thorny issue of police brutality and the enactment of enabling legislation to guide the operations of the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) among some of the issues expected to take centre stage.
Parliament adjourned for its annual winter break on 26 June 2020 and in a circular to legislators and other stakeholders this week, National Assembly clerk, Advocate Fine Maema, said it would reconvene on 5 October 2020.
“I am directed to inform you that the 10th meeting of the first session of the 10th parliament of the Kingdom of Lesotho will be held at the new parliament building on Monday 5 October 2020,” Adv Maema stated.
Although, his brief circular did not provide any further details, some legislators who spoke to the Sunday Express this week said they expected the issues of police brutality, NACOSEC and the reforms to dominate the agenda of the august house.
Police have been roundly condemned for acts of brutality against citizens. Even the Lesotho Mounted Police Service Staff Association (LEPOSA) has denounced police brutality and called on Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to fire Police Commissi0oner Holomo Molibeli over his alleged failure to deal with the issue.
National Independent Party (NIP) leader and non-constituency legislator Kimetso Mathaba yesterday told the Sunday Express that, “parliament should demand answers from the government on how it is dealing with the rampant cases of alleged police brutality”.
Mr Mathaba also said that parliament should swiftly pass laws that govern operations of various government departments including NACOSEC to enable it to effectively discharge its mandate.
“Parliament should create laws and regulations that will guide operations of government departments such as NACOSEC which currently does not have clear protocols. Parliament should make a law that supports its establishment.”
NACOSEC was set up in June 2020 by Dr Majoro to spearhead the fight against the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
It replaced the inter-ministerial National Emergency Command Centre (NECC) which had been set up in March this year by then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
However, NACOSEC has not been fully operational because government has not yet given it the funds to finance its activities. This after some senior government officials including the principal secretary for cabinet administration, Kabelo Lehora, questioned the legality of NACOSEC in the absence of enabling legislation.
The government had budgeted M698 million for the Covid-19 fight. The NECC had already gobbled M161 million out of the budget set aside by the government to fight Covid-19 by the time it was disbanded in June 2020.
Mr Lehora recently said NACOSEC may have acted outside its powers when it advertised for tenders and appointed personnel for the fight against virus without consulting his office.
Among others, NACOSEC has advertised tenders for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), marketing, advertising and communication consultancy. It has also invited applications for 50 call centre jobs. But without funds, all its activities are in limbo.
Mr Mathaba said parliament should also receive a progress report from the National Reforms Authority (NRA) on how far it had gone towards executing its mandate to coordinate the implementation of the multi-sector reforms since its inauguration in February this year.
“It has been a while since the NRA was inaugurated. We know that the hiring process for its secretariat has started but parliament should be given a full update on everything it has achieved so far.
Democratic Party of Lesotho (DPL) leader Limpho Tau said parliament should form an inquiry to investigate the alleged corruption in the use of Covid-19 funds by the NECC.
He also said the government should be held to account for its failure to implement the resolutions of a parliamentary committee which called for the establishment of a commission to investigate and prosecute those who had corruptly benefited from the wool and mohair industry at the expense of farmers.
He also said the government had not acted on recommendations to establish an independent entity to manage the wool and mohair industry. That entity would market the produce, find buyers on behalf of farmers and engage in other activities aimed at developing the sector.