Parly a warzone: MPs
OPPOSITION legislators on Friday raised objections to stringent security measures which prevented the public from attending parliament.
The august house resumed sitting on Friday after it was indefinitely adjourned on 22 November 2016 by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ntlhoi Motsamai.
However, opposition legislators were not overly impressed with the new security arrangements, with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) MP, Motlohi Maliehe telling the House that for the first time in its history, parliament resembled “a war zone”.
“We see police surrounding parliament with water cannons and we have also heard announcements by the police barring the citizenry from attending sessions,” Mr Maliehe said.
He said this was an unfortunate development as it excluded the very public who had elected the MPs, adding that concentrating police at parliament instead of having them focus on catching criminals would allow “thieves and rapists to go on the rampage”.
However, Ms Motsamai said it was good that the MPs were “complaining about overprotection rather than the lack thereof”.
“We cannot pretend we are not aware of the impact and unintended consequences of the prevailing vitriolic political rivalries, where one’s party supporters have become the arch enemies of the other,” Ms Motsamai said.
She stated that her office has always been very cautious when addressing issues of security for the purposes of striking a delicate balance between the basic principles of citizens’ participation in government and the parliamentary privilege.
She said while it was undeniable that citizens had the right to observe their legislature at work and to have reasonable access to their representatives, it was equally important to ensure that MPs worked in a safe environment.
She urged MPs not to trivialise the issue of security or politicise it as it was an issue of paramount importance.
However, the deputy leader of Basotho National Party (BNP), Joang Molapo said the Speaker was not being sincere, adding the security arrangements were “not meant to protect us as MPs but to intimidate people from knowing the truth”.