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Reforms headache for EU, UN

…international community worried about reforms’ future as Parliamentary dissolution beckons

Mohloai Mpesi

The International community with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) at the helm is worried about the future, if any, of the National Reforms programme given the remaining time (about a week) before Parliament is dissolved ahead of the October date set for the general elections.

This emerged during a workshop held earlier this week mandated to sensitise members of the Senate in relation to the 11th Constitutional Amendment Omnibus Bill which imbues the National Reforms.

Head of the EU Delegation to Lesotho Paola Amadei expressed her concern towards the future of the reforms, whether the reforms will pass in parliament given that parliament is on the brink of dissolution next Thursday.  

The Bill which has been deliberated in the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on the Law and Public Safety Cluster, would still have to be deliberated by the House in the National Assembly before passing to the upper Senate house on its way to Royal Ascend by His Majesty the King.     

Amadei stated that the UN and EU had injected M15million towards facilitation of the National Reforms process over the past two years.

“Time is of the essence and we should not leave any stone unturned to complete the process. The passing of the Omnibus Bill is a crucial step in advancing the National Reform process, allowing its implementation after the processes that strive over many years and so the involvement of the whole nation. 

“Extensive and inclusive consultations allowed Basotho in the Diaspora to have their voices and opinions heard to shape the future of the nation and to avoid the repeat of past crises,” she said.

She said that the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and the EU have been in continued and steady partnership of the Basotho nation on the National Reform process providing political and financial support.

“Support provided was to facilitate public meetings during the multi-stakeholder dialogue process and to fund the National Reforms Authority whose work was drafting and outreach.

“Only in the last two years the financial support on the side of the European Union has been just under M15million. As UNDP and European Union we continue to support Lesotho and its National Reforms Process alongside areas of cooperation for the prosperity of the country.

“The EU has reserved M16million to support Basotho in the implementation of the new constitutional changes. As I speak before you, I am however deeply concerned by the perspective that the parliament might fail to adopt the reforms before its dissolution.

“Reforms process shall represent the legacy of this Parliament as the incumbent executive to delegate to the next government…after the dissolution of Parliament and the General Elections, it is not clear if the new government will take forward the National Reforms process.

“As lawmakers I urge you to deliver on the hope that you made to serve these citizens. The programmes of cooperation in the country are underpinned by the reforms and will be affected should the reforms not go ahead,” she said.

Meanwhile, UN Resident Coordinator Amanda Mukwashi said it was imperative that Parliament regards passing the Constitutional amendment 2022 before its dissolution

“Peace is an essential ingredient in maintaining economic development, political and social order. Basotho came together in a resounding equivocal single voice, pronounced the specific reforms that the country needed to go through in the seven thematic sectors,” she said.

“The people sworn that these reforms would transform the country into the Lesotho that we want. Their voices were captured in the Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue Plenary II Report and delivered to NRA to kick start implementation in the immediate term.

“With this commitment, they demonstrated desire to see peace, prosperity and wellbeing for every single Mosotho. With this commitment, Basotho gained confidence and support of the international community,” she said.

The former NRA Chairperson Pelele Letsoela lamented that the Electoral Act which was adopted by the National Assembly late last month does not heed to the contents of Plenary II.  

“As NRA we were given a mandate to implement the desires of Basotho in the Plenary II Report. We worked hard and you will see in the Omnibus Bill that we did exactly as Basotho Directed.

“I am wondering if the Parliament that directed NRA to work relating to the public’s recommendation is not bound to abide by the same recommendations and desires of the nation especially when they are representing the nation.

“This will be seen in the Electoral Act that does not follow the process recommended in the Plenary II Report. It does not respect the directive given to NRA by Parliament and check compliance whether the NRA implemented the thoughts and desires of the people,” he said.

He said the NRA tried by all means to build the peace blocks in the Omnibus Bill as the grave concern of Basotho per Plenary II.

“We did not use our own interests, but we used the document (Plenary II),” he said.

For his part, former NRA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Advocate Mafiroane Motanyane, the Reforms Roadmapwas developed by the Government of Lesotho with technical support of the UNDP.

He said the roadmap sets the basis, structures and processes for the reforms process while development of consensus and peace-building lies at the center of the reforms.

“Following Plenary II, NRA was formed as the reforms implementation mechanism. This body is enjoined to safeguard the national reforms process by ensuring that citizens’ voices are heard,” he said.

On October 02, 2021 NRA submitted the first part of the Omnibus Constitutional Bill containing 35 constitutional amendments to the Government but the Bill was returned in November 2021.

“Parliament referred the Bill back to the NRA for incorporation of all the other pending constitutional amendments in February, 2022,” he said.

The Omnibus Constitutional Bill contains over 90 amendments that comprise the new legislative framework intended to usher the country to the upcoming general elections.

“The Bill focuses on creation of stability through separation of powers, strengthening of institutions and oversight mechanisms, meritocracy in recruitment in the Public Service and other institutions of accountability inter alia; promotion of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Empowerment of women, youth, people with disability and others, reduction of public expenditure and addressing corruption, eestablishment of a political conflict resolution mechanism” Motanyane said.

The initial phase of the National Reforms was dialogue amongst different sectors of Basotho in their different localities in the 10 districts as well as through Diaspora consultations for Basotho living abroad especially those in the neighbouring South Africa where most them are based. These are the views which make-up the Plenary II Report.

This phase was spear-headed by a 15-member multi-sector National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) whose mandate ended at the fall of 2020, hot on the heels of the NRA whose role was to implement the public view and so legalise the practicality of the protracted reforms agenda.

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