Pension benefits relief for Metsing
FORMER deputy premier Mothetjoa Metsing will continue to receive his pension benefits until a High Court case in which he challenges the government’s decision that he is not entitled to them is finalised.
On Thursday, Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo gave Mr Metsing the temporary reprieve after the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader filed an urgent application High Court on the same day seeking to prevent the government from denying him the pension benefits.
Mr Metsing took the legal route after Public Service Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane recently stated that the former was not entitled to the deputy prime ministerial benefits because he did not serve in the position for 36 continuous months.
A former deputy prime minister is entitled to a chauffeur-driven vehicle, free medical treatment, a bodyguard, free telephone, water and electricity, a gardener and house maid and a diplomatic passport.
Mr Metsing first occupied the office of deputy prime minister in June 2012 when the LCD formed a coalition government with the Thomas Thabane-led All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Chief ‘Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP).
Dr Thabane led that government until the 28 February 2015 elections when it made way for a seven-party coalition administration led by former premier Pakalitha Mosisili.
Mr Metsing retained his position as deputy premier in the seven-party government which was inaugurated on 17 March 2015 until the 3 June 2017 snap elections which brought back a Dr Thabane-led four party coalition including the BNP, Reformed Congress of Lesotho and the Alliance of Democrats.
All in all, Mr Metsing served 59 months under the two governments, although his tenure was briefly interrupted by the change of regimes in 2015. By the end of the first coalition government, he had served around 31 months as deputy premier.
Section 3, subsection 1b of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (Retirement and Spouses’ Benefits) Act of 2011 stipulates that “a person who holds the office of Deputy Prime Minister shall, on ceasing office… if he has held office for a period of 36 months, be granted a monthly pension at the rate of 80 percent of their basic salary attached to the office of the Deputy Prime Minister on the last day which they held office”.
The issue of whether Mr Metsing qualified for benefits as a former deputy prime minister had dominated public discussions, including social media, until the government pronounced itself on the matter.
After granting Mr Metsing’s urgent prayers, Justice Nomngcongo postponed the substantive case to Friday next week. The case will proceed on that day if the respondents will have filed their opposing papers, otherwise the sitting would be used to appoint a specific date on which the case would be heard.
Chief ‘Maseribane, Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and the Attorney-General Tšokolo Makhethe are cited as first to fourth respondents respectively.
Mr Metsing wants the respondents to show cause, “if any” why he should not be granted the benefits.
He also wants them answer why: “The decision of first respondent (Chief ‘Maseribane) communicated by a public announcement over Lesotho National Television that the applicant does not qualify for benefits provided under Section (3)(1) (b) and 8 of Act 10 of 2016 read with Regulations promulgated in legal Notice 121 of 2016 shall not be declared null and void of no force or effect.”
The former prime minister also wants the court to direct that he be paid a monthly pension.