Ntlhoi Motsamai

Deputy Speaker 1996-99.

Motsamai entered politics in 1996, when she was elected deputy speaker of the National Assembly. Lesotho’s constitution does not restrict the speakership or the deputy speakership to members of parliament, only requiring that ministers cannot be elected to those positions. Motsamai succeeded to the speakership in 1999, following the death of John Teboho Kolane. She became Lesotho’s first female speaker, and was also believed to be the youngest speaker in Africa. When she took office, the National Assembly had only three female MPs.

In 2005, Motsamai nominated Bereng Sekhonyana to represent Lesotho at a SADC parliamentary reform conference in Botswana. Justin Lekhanya (the leader of the Basotho National Party) objected to her decision, and subsequently organised a series of protests at the National Assembly buildings. The assembly’s privileges committee subsequently found that Lekhanya and four other BNP members had threatened and intimidated Motsamai, and recommended that they be suspended from parliament without pay for up to five months. Sekhonyana was assassinated two days after that finding was handed down.