The deadline for the long-drawn National Reformsagenda which entails constitutional, parliamentary, security, judiciary, public service, economic and most importantly media reforms is once again upon us. Since the road towards remodeling the country’s multi-sectors at the back of the SOMILES Report which was further augmented by the Mphaphi Phumaphi Commission Report, it seems the country has been in the habit of missing reform implementation deadlines like it’s not funny. This has mainly been result of underestimating the work that goes into implementing nationally representative reforms.
The journey which began in 2016 has stretched far beyond what anyone could have predicted because at first glance it looked in the eyes of everyone, especially those from other parts but here, that we as a people would have assessed the veracity and urgency of the situation requiring reform and put all processes into motion timeously, but noo not with us Basotho! Self-aggrandizement before national good, that is the way it always has to go!
Well, to their credit though, those in the leadership of the programme established such a solid background that when the process kicked-off it moved almost like clock-work, if only for the incessant political bickering. The processes dragged through the stages of the establishment of a government task team, the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) and its plenaries the second of whose report the National Reforms Authority (NRA) got its mandate.
When it was initially installed by the beginning of last year, the Authority was supposed to be done implementing the decisions as contained in the Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue Plenary II at most after 18 months. However, as of today at the tick of the clock, the process has only covered 90 Constitutional Amendments which still have to be passed by Parliament.
This leaves Basotho with many questions. Will they ever be completed when meanwhile the NRA body is getting hefty benefits for staying in office?
One of the Authority’s milestones is the completion of 90 amendments to the Constitution wherein a hefty task of seeing them converted into Acts of Parliament still lies ahead.
Despite the progress made, NRA Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Benedict TšiuKhathibe says there is still more work to be done. He said the impending problem is how those tasks will be sustained because different stakeholders realised that the time is not sufficient to complete these tasks and could not be completed in just 18 months.
Honestly, the country cannot go on like this. The sooner the implementation of the reforms, the higher the chances of attracting much needed investment. But that can only be done if reforms are completed and implemented as soon as possible.
The hope was that by the time campaigning for the 2022 elections starts, we should have completed the reforms because the preferable route according to all the stakeholders is that Basotho must go to elections with the reforms in place but we are a few months from elections yet the reforms have not been completed and there is no sign in sight for that changing.
The resulting poor economic performance has led to joblessness and widespread poverty. Crime continues to escalate partly due to the high unemployment and the sooner the reforms are completed the better.
Will the national reforms end up reflecting the wishes of Basotho?