elections

March 4, 2022

NEO SENOKO

2 min read

Budget speech disrupted

Budget speech disrupted

Speaker of Parliament, Sephiri Motanyane

Story highlights

  • ABC withdraws from government
  • Some MPs argue government has collapsed under the circumstances

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THE much anticipated tabling of the 2022/23 budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday could not be read after chaos erupted following an All Basotho Convention (ABC) letter stating the party was withdrawing from the coalition government.

Yet, the Speaker of Parliament, Sephiri Motanyane said whether or not the ABC withdrew from government, it was procedural that the budget should be read.

A faction of the ABC that wrote the letter, had expected the withdrawal would lead to the collapse of Dr Moeketsi Majoro, who has since resigned from the party’s executive committee after he failed to win the ABC leadership.

“In its seating on the 2nd March 2022, Caucus of the ABC has made a decision to withdraw the party from government and partnership with the Democratic Congress,” read the letter.

Reasons for withdrawal were not given.

On Wednesday, Parliament came to a standstill with the day’s proceedings being suspended on two separate occasions, over whether or not the budget presentation should continue.

Some of the MPs argued that if the leading coalition partner, ABC, had withdrawn from government, then ideally it meant the government had collapsed.

However, Mr Motanyane said he could not be drawn into ABC internal matters and had no powers to suspend orders of the day, where the budget presentation ought to go ahead as planned.

“I cannot interfere with matters of the ABC,” he said. “But this is the order of the day so we have to read the budget according to procedure of the House. I am not the one who is saying the budget should continue but it’s the orders of the day. I do not have powers to overrule orders of the day.”

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Amidst the confusion, while some members of the ABC argued that they knew nothing about the letter presented before parliament and called for the budget presentation to proceed, others insisted any tabling of the budget would be invalid.

ABC MP for the Butha-Buthe Constituency, Motlohi Maliehe was at the forefront, questioning the authenticity of the letter, while other opposition members such as the Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader, Monyane Moleleki and Mokhotlong legislator, Tefo Mapesela were of the view that budget presentation should be suspended. 

Following a long debate overshadowed by members, who were insulting one another, Mr Motanyane suspended the proceedings until the following day, Thursday and it remains to be seen as to whether or not the budget presentation would go ahead as scheduled on Thursday.  

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