UK envoy urges MPs to stay focused on Reforms

RELEBOHILE TSOAMOTSE

MASERU – The British High Commissioner to Lesotho, Her Excellency Anne Marco has urged Lesotho Members of Parliament (MPs) not to let hiccups within government distract them from the important work that needs to be done by the National Reforms Authority (NRA). Marco made the remarks yesterday at the National Assembly at an event to commemorate the Commonwealth Day.

She urged the MPs to commit and work towards achieving shared values and aspirations set out in the Commonwealth charter – development of free and democratic societies and promotion of peace and security while also urging them to take advantage of their network with other commonwealth governments. Marco reiterated the UK’s support to Lesotho’s journey with the National Reforms Process, adding that they have also facilitated training workshops for parliamentary staff and MPs.

“We were very grateful to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) UK for sponsoring two Basotho participants to attend their week-long seminar on Effective Parliaments in London last year. “In November, a delegation of clerks and specialists from the UK parliament visited Lesotho to conduct a training workshop and to hold discussions on future operations.

“We hope that a further delegation of both parliamentary staff and members of Parliament will visit Lesotho this year. Their focus will be on supporting the parliamentary committees to ensure they can effectively hold the executive to account,” she said.

She added that Commonwealth Parliament Association has been running a training session for 50 committee members from the Senate and National Assembly who will work with UK MPs later this year.

Marco highlighted that during the National Reforms Process dialogues, the importance of increased accountability, including through a strengthened committee system, was recognised and she expressed hope that the training programmes will equip local MPs and staff to bring those responsible to account.

“I hope that the partnership between our two parliaments will help to support this process, this is of course a very challenging time politically but I urge and encourage all Members of Parliament not to let the current dramas distract them from important work that must be done by the National Reforms Authority and by Parliament itself.”

She added: “Please remember that your Commonwealth friends are watching and encouraging you and that there is a vast breadth and depth of experience that exists in the Commonwealth’s 54 member states that you can draw on to assist if additional inspiration is needed.” Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Teboho Lehloenya, assured the High Commissioner that Lesotho remains committed to the ideals of the Commonwealth but said Lesotho needs to ensure that the benefits tickle down to the citizens.

Lehloenya said the MPs should use the Commonwealth as a catalyst for new forms of friendship and co-operation as envisaged by the charter to pave the right path to the reforms process. He said the Commonwealth charter’s core values relate directly to the mandate of the parliament, namely; democracy, freedom of expression, separation of powers, rule of law and good governance.

He urged members to take them into consideration as they engage in the reform process. “I implore you Honourable Members to take into consideration in light of the Latimer House principles when we actively engage in the ongoing Parliamentary reforms.

“In this process, I urge you Honourable Members to be as inclusive as possible and engage all sectors of the society, including the vulnerable and marginalised groups, to make contributions in establishing a parliament we all want,” she continued.

The Commonwealth Day is celebrated on the second Monday of March each year, and this year it will be commemorated on March 9 but Lesotho celebrated it yesterday because parliament has another event on the same day. The theme of this year’s Commonwealth Day is “Delivering a common future; connecting, innovating, transforming.”

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