Parties boycott  reforms meeting

Parties boycott reforms meeting

MASERU – POLITICAL parties without representation in parliament have boycotted a consultative meeting on national reforms organised by the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN).
Addressing a press conference on Monday, the parties’ joint spokesman Pelele Letsoela said they would not be part of the LCN-facilitated meeting because it represents a parallel process out of synch with the set structure of the reform process.

Letsoela, deputy leader of the Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP), said the LCN has ignored the all-inclusive National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) structure.
“When the National Reforms Authority was preparing to start working on the national reforms, they decided to form the National Dialogue Planning Committee whose function was to work on the National Dialogue till the process reaches Plenary II,” Letsoela said.

The NDPC is one of the committees formed to deal with the National Reforms Dialogue processes, he said.
“But we have realised that the LCN has taken that part which was to be played by the NDPC, so we think this is not good,” Letsoela said.
“We thought the NDPC will give us the details on the National Dialogue, but we see the LCN doing that, so that is not how things should be,” Letsoela said.
He said they were surprised to receive an invite from the LCN when NDPC should be the one inviting them.
“So we have decided that we want everything be done the right way,” he said.
Letsoela said they want the reforms process to proceed without hitches hence the insistence on following laid down procedure and structures.

The LCN meetings, he said, are running parallel with the National Reforms “so if they can be part of that, it might be illegal and the results might be disloyal to the nation”.
The LCN has from Monday to today been holding sectoral consultations on the reforms process at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre.
The LCN in its statement said “Lesotho is in the process of national reforms intended to spearhead the transformation of the Kingdom into a stable, prosperous and united nation”.
The LCN said it has completed in-district consultations that covered 76 community councils.
“The intended reform process is to anchor a future that is peaceful, stable and economically viable,” the statement reads.

“The in-district consultations were targeting individual citizens and local authorities including organisations to afford them a space to state their aspirations,” it reads.
“It is on this basis LCN found necessary to attain institutions and sectors aspiration by securing the institutions and sectors’ input for reforms, to enable contributions of sectors to the reforms that talk directly to policy and legislature and amplifying institutions’ and sectors’ voices.”
The result of this is to come up with a position paper for institutions or sectors that is reflective of the inward looking and outward looking of policy and legislature consideration affecting them.

LCN is leading the sectoral consultations to address cross-cutting issues as identified by a multi-stakeholders’ conference and making its own contribution on specific interventions targeting policy and legislative action.
The intervention also seeks to achieve improved and inclusive participation of organised formations into the reforms process as well as creation of space for identifying and contributing into policy and legislature actions for future consideration by the Reforms Plenary II.
Meanwhile, speaking at the meeting the European Commission Ambassador Christian Manahl said this is “another milestone on a journey which has its origins in the reforms pledge signed by all political parties before the elections two years ago”.

The journey kicked off with the consultative forum organized by civil society in October 2017.
“It has been a long journey with setbacks and detours, but it has produced a wealth of ideas and proposals about the reforms necessary to achieve the Lesotho you want,” Manahl said.
“With these sectoral consultations, the dialogue now reaches the home stretch. The home stretch, as you perhaps know, is an expression from sports, it refers to the last 100 meters before a marathon runner reaches the finishing line,” he said.
“And it is usually the hardest and most competitive part of the run, when the runners put in the last bit of energy they have left.”

Manahl encouraged Basotho to give their best in order to narrow down on key reforms decisions for the second plenary of the multi-stakeholder national dialogue, which is scheduled for mid-September.
The National Leaders Forum will decide at the end of this month on the composition and mandate of the national reforms authority, based on the agreement signed on July 4 and witnessed by SADC Facilitator, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The National Dialogue Planning Committee, with the assistance of a group of experts, will analyse the outcome of the discussions during the first plenary, during the consultations in all the districts, with the diaspora, and during the sectoral consultations which start today.
They will summarise and condense all these discussions into a report and a set of recommendations for consideration and adoption by the second plenary.

Manahl said the events of the last couple of months should have convinced all stakeholders of the need for political reforms in Lesotho, if there was still any doubt.
“Lesotho needs sound, stable and professional institutions, which respect each other’s independence,” he said. “Lesotho needs effective checks and balances which guarantee that those entrusted with public offices are held accountable to the people whom they serve.”

Manahl added that Lesotho should have a parliamentary system that allows coalition governments to complete the full legislative term. He said Lesotho needs “political parties which follow democratic practices and processes, and which allow for constructive debates on how the country should be governed”.
He said it is also about a political culture where debates are focused on policies rather than personalities, where constructive criticism and differing opinions are appreciated as necessary ingredients of a democratic debate.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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