Parties pledge to salvage Reforms’ Bills
MASERU – In an attempt to salvage Lesotho’s national peace processes, a SADC-brokered deal has been completed with 14 of the country’s political parties and civil society groups committing to ensure the successful continuation of the National Reforms to completion. This commitment includes ensuring the passing of the 11th Amendment to the Constitution Bill of 2022, popularly known as the Omnibus Bill, and other related Bills tabled before parliament from the reforms authority.
The political parties have also sworn to make the implementation of the national reforms a priority to ensure stability, security, peace and reconciliation, commitment to the national reforms process, as well as the constructive engagement and quick implementation of the reforms. The parties have assured Basotho of their dedication and commitment to change the course of the country and urged Members of Parliament to fast-track the process and pass the Omnibus Bill and all other related legislative instruments before the end of June 2022.
“We will exercise fidelity over the aspirations of Basotho on the Lesotho they want as espoused in the multi-stakeholder Plenary II report which has informed the 11th Amendment to the Constitution Bill.
“In the true spirit of the principles underpinning the reforms process, we shall remove all the obstacles and impediments that have the potential to derail or delay the passing of the 11th Amendment to the Constitution bill,” pledged the parties that include the All Basotho Convention, Alliance of Democrats, Basotho Action Party, Basotho Congress Party, Basotho National Party, Basotho Patriotic Party, Democratic Congress, Democratic Party of Lesotho, Lesotho Congress for Democracy, Movement for Economic Change, Marema-tlou Freedom Party, National Independent Party, Popular Front for Democracy and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
The pledge has also been signed by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro on behalf of the government of Lesotho, as well as the SADC Facilitator to Lesotho on behalf of the regional body. The signatory political parties have agreed to co-operate with all other parties and stakeholders in the processing and passing of the Omnibus Bill and other related legislative instruments.
They also promised to fully commit themselves to adhere to the Constitution of Lesotho and the principles of democracy. “In this regard, we undertake to collectively co-operate in ensuring that the upcoming 2022 general election scheduled for September/October are successful and that all Basotho are afforded an opportunity to freely exercise their right to universal and equal suffrage,” they committed.
Prior to this fresh commitment, on July 4, 2017, government and political parties in the country had signed a memorandum on the reforms process committing to remove all obstacles and impediments which may unduly delay, undermine or derail the reform process.
Meanwhile, Tefo Mapesela, founder and leader of the Basotho Patriotic Party, who also signed the pledge, told Public Eye he is committed to ensuring passage of the amendments to the constitution and other regulations before parliament with the exclusion of a few.
He said the task is possible and can be achieved within a month, but pointed out that since he is not part of the responsible parliamentary committee, he can’t comprehend how the process will be finalised in terms of consultations since the National Reforms Authority (NRA) has been disbanded.
“I do not know how they will pass the Bills without consulting the NRA. I signed the pledge because all I want is for the Bills to be passed but how they are going to do it, I do not know. If they decide to pass the Bills as they are without consulting the NRA then so be it,” he said.
He noted that no matter the progress, the impending elections that are supposed to be held in September will not be postposed unless the Constitution is challenged. On the other hand, the Minister of Law and Justice, who is also the leader of Popular Front for Democracy, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, said the plan is to ensure that the Omnibus Bill and other reforms-related Bills are passed by parliament by the end of June.
He said this is a difficult task to complete within the set time, but indicated that they have no choice but to work hard and deliver. Rakuoane said he remained hopeful that the Bills will be worked on and passed before parliament within a month, pointing out that he submitted the Bills to parliament in April and was only told that the responsible committee will start work on them from Friday.
On the issue of consultation since the NRA’s time has expired, Rakuoane said the committee will consult NRA officials (civil servants) who he said are still in office. This imminent adoption of the Omnibus Bill to pave way for outright constitutional reforms in Lesotho has raised a lot of hope on key stakeholders such as the SADC and the European Union (EU).
Public Eye has also learned that this week several meetings were held in Pretoria, South Africa, between the Dutch and Bulgarian Ambassadors to Lesotho, a team from the Institute for Security Studies and with the Ambassador in the Embassy of France in South Africa, Aurélien Lechevallier, and the SADC Facilitator to Lesotho Justice Dikgang Moseneke on the reforms progress.