Southern African Development Authority (SADC) Head of Facilitation team to the Lesotho political and peace situation, retired Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke says the Omnibus Bill should be passed before Parliament is dissolved in preparation for the upcoming general elections set for October this year.
Moseneke told this publication that SADC is zealous to see the Omnibus Bill passed by parliament before elections. This he said this week during his two-day visit into the country to observe progress made in reforms’ implementation by the National Reforms Authority (NRA).
“We have basically come here to check on the reforms since the NRA has completed its duty and handed over the Omnibus Bill to parliament to be passed and have most of the reforms done before the elections.
“We know that parliament will have to be dissolved somewhere in mid-July so that we can have elections that follow. So we have been engaging the parties to check their readiness and whether they will be able to have the reforms passed before the elections and the answer that we have got has been and is a resounding yes.
“We as SADC would hope so because we have been working for four years now on the reforms agenda, and would like to see the outcome of reforms in favour of Basotho in the hope that the lives of Basotho would improve as the governance improves,” he said.
Meanwile weighing-in on the matter Minister in Prime Minister’s Office, Likopo Mahase indicated that although they agree with Moseneke about the urgency of the reforms and its implementation inter-party politics going on at the National Assembly could be the challenge towards passage of the Omnibus Bill which would actually be amendment of the Constitution, especially since there are some Constitutional provisions which are double entrenched thus requiring a two-thirds majority of all members of the House.
He said according to the National Elections’ Calendar, the National Assembly will be dissolved on July 14 and the Council of State will reconvene so that His Majesty the King announces the date for elections hence all parts of the Bill which require just a simple majority will be expedited.
Government’s absolute majority was relegated to simple majority following a rift within members of the main partner in the ruling coalition of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC) a row which has been playing out in parliament since earlier this year.
Meanwhile, asked if government was considering extending the NRA mandate since its duty is not yet completed although its tenure lapsed by the end of last month, he said according to law that formed NRA the extension was supposed to be given once, unless another Act is drafted to bring back NRA into office.
The section 12 (2) of the Act reads that, “Where the Authority is unable to complete its function within a period of one year, the authority may request the Minister to extend its duration for a period not exceeding six months or until the end of seven days after the last Bill receives the Royal Assent or the last legal instrument is tabled before the parliament, whichever comes first.”
Mahase said the matter of financial muscle will have to be taken into account if a decision to extend is reached. He said the first extension was made because the government still had a provision of budget.
“We can extend but it depends if there are funds. The reforms are government’s responsibility so we are yet to look at all logistics so see how we complete the remaining job, that’s why when SADC comes it meets with the government to see how far we are with the reforms and offers advices where necessary,” he said.