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June 23, 2024
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EYEING LESOTHO REFORMS

Reforming a country or national reforms is evolution or change resulting from amendment of legal or political malpractices among others, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum – Regional Inter-parliamentary body of SADC members of parliament unveils.

Many have argued on media platforms that Lesotho has since been engaged in this process long before the first Lesotho coalition in 2012 others say that this constitutional progression commenced after May 2012 elections when Lesotho sealed and registered its first coalition government, which was made of All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP).

However, Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) are said to have played a minor role according to the Institute For Security Studies (ISS) Research Paper issued after inauguration of the then Prime Minister, Dr. Thomas Thabane who succeeded Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili on June 08, 2012.

This has been supported by a Constitutional Law Professor, Hoolo ‘Nyane, who said when Lesotho entered the coalition era in 2012, the country had since been tracking this major programme aimed at achieving the motto ‘The Lesotho We Want.’ In line with Security, Parliament, Judiciary, Civil Service, Constitutional, Economy and Media so as to stabilise political squabbles and uncertainties that have affected the country in the long run. This He said in a Reaserch Paper issued on June 29, 2023 titled ‘Lesotho Constitutional Reforms, Progress or Stagnation.’?

This exercise, he stipulated gained support locally and internationally with organisations such as SADC and its mediation team, European Union (EU) as well as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Countries like South Africa and the United States of America (US) had substantial and direct interest in the reforms. Despite the back-up, the country’s head way remained sluggish.” He echoed.

Equally, the year 2016 SADC recordings endorsed that Lesotho undertakes Constitutional, Judicial, Security, Parliamentary and Economic reforms in an effort to create long-term political, social stability and for the development of the economy.

This request is said to have followed years of political uproar categorised by government downfalls and politicisation of police and the army, therefore, the national reforms would ensure professional conduct. 

Even though SADC set deadlines for this reform process, this was reviewed frequently by SADC for example, May 2019 deadline is said to have been missed due to contention among the political elite and clashes between government and opposition over the latter’s preconditions for its participation in the reforms. Civil Society organisations  namely: Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) and Lesotho Council of Non Governmental Organisations tried to intervene but efforts were in vain.

In another story, the then Prime Minister (PM), Dr. Moeketsi Majoro told the virtual 2020  SADC summit hosted by Mozambique that with the passage of the National Reforms Act in December 2019 and the inauguration of the National Lesotho Reforms Authority (NLRA) in February 2020, the process would be completed by September 2021, thus slow headway was registered because of  ABC continued fights and opposition. 

“With the government’s finances fragile and Covid-19 having affected the world, the journey is blurry. We appeal to SADC to extend timelines until 2022,” the PM told the summit.

Former NRA Chairperson, Chief Pelele Letsoela is adamant that despite law suits and conflict that arose among them as NRA members as they were doing the work, before its dissolution, the authority had done its part but lacked support from government. “We had our own fights as NRA but that did not impact on our work.

NRA was born out of supplementary sitting of the First Plenary of the Multi-stakeholder National Dialogue (MSND), which convened in Maseru on February 2019, by then National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) whose co-chair was Mr. Chaka Ntsane, charged with completing preparatory task proceeding in district dialogues, adopted guidelines as per the prescriptions of National Dialogue Act, 2018 in sections 11 (1) (f) and 11 (1) (g) amidst diverse perspective.

Development for Peace Education (DPE), one of the civil society organisation in its different public gatherings in rural areas continues to comfort the society, saying they should do everything possible in their power to make sure that this initiative works, as such is the only solution to Lesotho’s political landscape.

On behalf of today’s government, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), and Minister of Justice, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Justice Nthomeng Majara said it is too soon to lose hope.

She admitted that reforms, though not an easy job due to changing of governments among others, she had hoped that hers was just going to be an easy job of taking the ‘Omnibus Bill’ to parliament, only to find out that this is a long process requiring consultations with civil servants. Despite these setbacks, she assured Basotho nation that the government is committed to the process, thus will work until they reach the last mile.

Justice Majara’s sentiments have been backed by National Assembly Circular No. 3 of 2023 in terms of Standing Order No. 14 (2) issued by Clerk of the National Assembly, Advocate Lebohang Fine Maema, where he has recalled members for the Second Special Meeting of the 11th Parliament on August 07, 2023 at 2:30pm.

“Though members are still on winter break, they have been recalled as a sign of the government’s obligation to reforms, thus they will be working on ‘Omnibus Bill,’ 10th Amendment to the Constitution.” Advocate told the Agency in a telephonic interview.

Once they are done with the work, he said members can go back to winter break in line with the Parliamentary calendar which ends at the end of August 2023. However, the Agency has established that this meeting has been postponed.

On behalf of Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL), Reverend Mojaki Kometsi said despite challenges facing reforms, the church is committed to offer the country spiritual support and guidance in the form of wisdom, saying this journey is a blueprint for transforming Africa born out of Agenda 2063.

On the contrary, the youth under the  umbrella of the well-known youth forum “Bacha Shut Down’’ suspects that the government,  is deliberately slowing down the process in an attempt to achieve their political motives.  

It remains to be seen if today’s government led by Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and Alliance of Democrats (AD) give hope to the nation through this evolution known as national reforms.

Ends

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