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Sekhamane elected parly speaker as 11th parly convenes

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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…Mosena to deputise him

’Marafaele Mohloboli

ONE hundred and nineteen legislators, including incoming Prime Minister Sam Matekane, were sworn in as the 11th Parliament convened for its first sitting on Tuesday.

The convening of parliament and the swearing in of the MPs paves the way for tomorrow’s inauguration of Mr Matekane as prime minister. The inauguration ceremony will be held at Setsoto Stadium in Maseru.

Before the swearing in of MPs, former Government Secretary and founding member of the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Tlohang Sekhamane, was elected Speaker of the National Assembly. He succeeds Sephiri Motanyane who was speaker on the previous 10th parliament.

Mr Sekhamane will be deputised by Movement for Economic (MEC) deputy leader, ’Matlhohonolofatso Tšepang Mosena, who was elected unopposed.

Mr Sekhamane polled 69 votes to beat Kose Makoa of the Alliance of Democrats (AD) who got 49 votes. Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) leader and Moteete MP, Teboho Mojapela, abstained from voting, saying he neither supported the government nor the opposition in the contest. This did not prevent his deputy and proportional representation (PR) MP, ‘Mamarame Matela, from voting. It is not clear who she voted for because the vote was by secret ballot.

Delivering his maiden speech after romping to victory, Mr Sekhamane said he was honoured by the confidence bestowed on him to lead the august house.

“It is with great humility and a deep sense of honour, gratitude and integrity that I accept to be the Speaker of the 11th Parliament of the Kingdom of Lesotho. Having served in this house before and having presided over the affairs of the civil service of this country, I am fully aware of the mammoth responsibility that comes with this office, and I don’t take it lightly. I can only pray to the Almighty God that he holds my hand and guide me as I navigate my way through the torturous road that lies ahead,” Mr Sekhamane said.

He implored legislators to hit the ground running and pass crucial laws for the country’s benefit.

“Honourable members, this is the legislature and laws need to be made in this house. We need to pass long awaited laws that that are required to put this country on a new trajectory of development, peace and tranquility.

“We need laws that will empower our people and give them a new sense of pride and confidence. In my opinion, we need to hit the ground running as you know the people that elected you and put you in this house have very high expectations. It really can no longer be business as usual,” he added.

He said the new legislators had the “pressing task of overseeing the processes and transactions of the executive”.

He said the 11th Parliament had arguably the highest number of new faces since the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1993. Most of the new faces, including Mr Matekane and former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, are from his seven months-old RFP party. Although they are new on the political scene, they are nonetheless prominent people who have excelled in other fields such as business, law and academia.  That there were many new faces symbolised “new hope and a new rebirth” Mr Sekhamane said.

“It can thus be concluded that the 11th Parliament symbolises a new era, a new dawn in the parliamentary affairs of the Kingdom of Lesotho. This is an epoch that is characterised by a new sense of dignity, diligence and honour and a strong resolve to deliver on its mandate,” he said.

Ms Mosena, who had earlier been sworn in as an MP, had to resign after being elected deputy speaker. This is because one cannot be an MP and deputy speaker at the same time. Her resignation also allows her party to appoint someone else to replace her as a non-constituency MP.

Ms Mosena said the new parliament had been sworn in at an opportune time when the reforms process had to be expedited. This follows the previous parliament’s failure to pass the reforms bill before its dissolution on 13 July 2022 to pave way for the elections which were held on 7 October.

“Honourable Members, you come in at an opportune time when among other issues of importance, the reforms process is hanging by a thread towards either progression or regression. I trust you are committed to seeing the reforms through and you will prioritise and expedite their passage in the House as they are the cornerstone of a deepened democracy for our country.

“A whole opportunity lies ahead for us to address other development challenges that unsettled us especially when we were observing the business of the House from outside. Now that you are inside, you have a grand opportunity. We must always lead by example towards the change we are all so hungry for.

“Please embrace all opportunities presented by this House for growth and true servant hood. To achieve all these objectives, however noble they may be, we must be willing participants. Our people, especially those who still suffer the consequences of marginalisation, inequality, poverty and unemployment, expect no less from us. We cannot and we must not fail them.

“It is with great humility that I take the responsibility to deputise the Speaker of this august House. I want to express my sincerest appreciation to Honourable Members for the confidence they have placed in me, and for the great responsibility entrusted to me. It is one I do not intend to take lightly even for a second,” Ms Mosena said.