TEBOHO KHATEBE MOLEFI
MASERU – The United Nations (UN) would like to see all key stakeholders in the country’s National Reforms Programme participating and influencing peace and reforms talks, and able to facilitate communication between formal actors.
UNDP Resident Representative, Betty Wabunoha, has, as a result, appealed for all stakeholders to work together and ensure that no group is left behind “as we build and create a prosperous and peaceful nation.”
These sentiments the Resident Representative shared at the beginning of a three-day dialogue on priority setting for civil society organisations, faith based organisations, women, youth, people living with disabilities led organisations on the national reforms.
The gathering is themed ‘Enhanced citizen participation in the implementation of Lesotho national reforms.’
The meeting is intended to enhance citizen participation in the implementation of the national reforms and for participating groups to organise and articulate their issues and effectively participate in the implementation of the reforms – and to enhance their capacity to identify monitorable issues, the actual implementation and to raise concerns.
The specific objective of the gathering on the reforms process is to report on support to implementation of the national reforms programme, generate a common understanding on the status of the process as well as to identify and prioritise key issues as well as strategies for engagements in the reforms implementation process among the participants; in collaboration with the Lesotho Council of NGOs and the Christian Council of Lesotho, specific society organisation, gender and youth groups, people living with disabilities and other special interest groups and with state actors.
Wabunoha continued that “as ambassadors, civil society and faith-based organisations shall be a liaison to the Basotho, functioning as a voice for under-represented communities.”
She said part of the role the civil society movement is to serve as Lesotho’s idea incubator, keeping faith for causes that may take a long time to resolve – that they work on practical solutions or devote their creative energy to technology, such as creating a new social media platform for national reforms.
In his remarks, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Law and Justice, Retšelisitsoe Mohapi, highlighted that it can only be in order that the nation is engaged continuously during the reforms process. He said Basotho need feedback on what has become of the views they expressed on the Lesotho they want.
“In this context, we wish to sincerely thank our development partners, particularly the UNDP and the EU, for making it possible for us to further engage Basotho on the implementation of the ongoing reforms process.
It is our hope that that those who will be tasked with taking the message of what has been done to Basotho, will do so with dignity and will remain true to the principles of impartiality and commitment to the reforms process.”
Speaking at the opening of deliberations, National Reforms Programme Manager, Charles Makunja, highlighted the importance citizen participation in the process to ensure that nobody is left behind in this transformation initiative,” the principal secretary continued.
Makunja regretted that while national laws provided for citizen participation in parliamentary deliberations in respective portfolio groups, hardly are citizens engaged.
He continued that “it is to give the citizens a voice in the reforms process that we are gathered here as representatives of special interest groups,” he said. “We want to come out with key organisation that are key in the process.”
With the 11th Amendment to the constitution under processing in parliament, work is expected to commence in developing enabling legislations and their operationalisation that calls for greater improvement in the overall democratic governance and economic performance in the country.
In November 2019, the multi-stakeholder National Dialogue Plenary adopted a report containing consolidated administrative, legal, policy, institutional and constitutional reforms proposals to be implemented in a short, intermediate and long term.
This followed a 2018 government of Lesotho, United Nations, SADC, the European Union, civil society and other stakeholders’ initiated dialogue and reforms process to address underlying democratic governance challenges with a view to transform and stabilize Lesotho.
In its support to the implementation of the national reforms the UNDP seeks to strengthen key actors to collectively and in a representative way in the reforms implementation process.
This UNDP programme is meant to enhance citizen participation in the implementation of the national reforms – in supporting civil society organisations, gender and youth groups, people living with disabilities and other special interest groups to organise, articulate their issues and effectively participate in the implementation of the reforms process.