SADC upbeat about Lesotho’s coming polls



MASERU – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is satisfied with the progress Lesotho has made in implementing the ongoing national reforms and expects the country to hold peaceful elections. This emerged during the 24th Ordinary Meeting of the SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation held in Pretoria, South Africa, this week.

The meeting was briefed on developments regarding the implementation of the SADC decisions on the political and security situation in Lesotho. “Since 2014, the region as a collective has played a significant role in assisting the Kingdom of Lesotho to find lasting solutions to her political and security challenges,” SADC executive secretary, Elias Magosi, said. Magosi said these efforts led to the stabilisation of the security sector. He indicated that admirably Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) was also contributing to regional peace and security initiatives in the Republic of Mozambique as part of the SADC Standby Force deployment in Cabo Delgado Province.

“Allow me to express the region’s gratitude to all stakeholders and the SADC Facilitator for the progress that has been made so far,” he said. Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, and chairperson of the MCO also expressed her satisfaction with the progress made in Lesotho. “I am pleased to highlight that regional engagement and mediation efforts in the Kingdoms of Lesotho and eSwatini are progressive and constructive,” Pandor said. She added: “It is heartening to note that the political and security situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho is generally calm and stable.”

Pandor also told the meeting that Angola and Lesotho will hold national elections in August 2022 and October 2022, respectively. “We wish our fellow members a peaceful election in this regard. The SADC Electoral Observer Missions, as is practice, will be deployed in conformity with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,” she said.

In a Legal Notice No 63 of 2022 dated July 19, King Letsie III proclaimed October 7, 2022, as the day on which general elections to elect new Members of Parliament (MPs) will be held. He dissolved parliament on July 14 after its five-year term had expired. The national elections were expected to be held under a new constitutional regime resulting from a reform process.

But when its term ended, parliament had not passed the 11th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2022, commonly known as Omnibus Bill. The Bill, according to Hoolo ‘Nyane, head of department, public and environmental law department, University of Limpopo in South Africa, is not perfect but promised to arrest some of the longstanding constitutional problems. These include the excessive powers of the prime minister, a judiciary that is controlled by the executive, politicised security agencies and a weak parliament.

The Bill contained a variety of amendments to be made to the constitution. It was drafted by the National Reforms Authority (NRA) – an institution established by an Act of parliament in 2019 to manage, coordinate, and lead the reforms process. NRA’s term expired at the end of April this year and the government decided not to renew its mandate. The Bill was tabled in the national assembly by Minister of Law and Justice, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane. When it was passed for the first time in the national assembly, many of the proposed amendments had been deleted.

When it got to the upper house, senators restored many of the amendments which were deleted by the national assembly and returned it to the lower house on the eve of the day parliament’s term was ending. It was a race against time to pass the Bill before midnight on Wednesday, July 30, but by midnight when parliament’s term ended the bill had not been passed and it therefore lapsed. It is, therefore, expected that the country will hold elections under the old political design, according to ’Nyane. He was the consultant for the NRA during the drafting of the Omnibus Bill.

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