The Lesotho government acts as a guarantor for all who are granted loans, and if a member defaults in paying the balance, the government repays the outstanding balance to the bank that may have granted the loan. During deliberations at the meeting, former Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, argued that while he felt MPs should continue enjoying the benefit of the hefty loans they should however pay them back should the life of parliament end for whatever reason.
Mr Mosisili said it had become evident that the granting of loans to legislators had angered the nation, “but the initial intent for the move was not bad at all”. He added: “The only problem with these loans is that when the government changes all the loans are paid by the government, even for those who continue to be in parliament and are able to pay back the loans.”
He insisted that they had to rethink the manner in which the entire loan facility had been carried out to ensure that MPs who were still in parliament reimbursed their loans. Mr Mosisili maintained government should not continue to be the guarantor for defaulting MPs.
The former prime minister’s utterances followed a presentation by Development for Peace Education (DPE) coordinator, Sofonea Shale, which critiqued the loan facility based on views collected from members of the public.
In his representation, Mr Shale had shown that the nation was divided on the issue, with one section of the public supporting the continuance of the loans while another called for the law facilitating the loans to be scrapped – on the grounds that MPs already enjoyed decent salaries. MP for Mabote constituency Fako Moshoeshoe argued for the perpetuation of the loans, saying: “our salaries are low compared to other regional and continental counterparts”.
According to him, “the loans at least supplement our low salaries, especially because we work hard in parliament. These loans can also attract better educated people to become the MPs.”The majority of MPs present at the discussions appeared to support the continuance of the loans, but with a provision that government no longer became guarantor for defaulters.
Amongst the observers present, a lady who opted for anonymity questioned the legislators often declared love and care for the nation, reasoning their actions betrayed their utterances.