Parties schooled on democracy

Parties schooled on democracy

MASERU – TWELVE political parties that are in parliament received training on how to effectively manage their political outfits to maintain internal peace and stability.
The training was organized by the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC), an ecumenical organisation advocating for democracy and human rights.
Political scientists from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) conducted the training programme.
The two-day training targeted executive committee members of the parties, both the ruling and the opposition.

According to a TRC press statement, the training workshop was aimed at capacitating the twelve political parties in parliament on proper management of political parties in a democratic society.
The training also addressed the effects of political parties’ weaknesses and how that affects the efficiency and life of parliament.
The statement says the training follows a study that revealed that political parties are a central pillar of representative democracy.

The study that was conducted for TRC by Professor Motlamelle Kapa from NUL and Dr Victor Shale from EISA identifies the issues that lead to splits of political parties in the country.
The statement says these parties require virtues such as internal cohesion, democratic and visionary leadership, intra-party democracy and constructive management of internal conflicts to be able to effectively play their role as agents of representative democracy.

“They also need capacity on policy development, development of party manifestos, voter and civic education,” the press release stated.
The training was largely aimed at building institutional development of political parties to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Lesotho and was facilitated by Advocate ’Mamosebi Pholo, a Commissioner of the Independent Electoral Commission, and Advocate Tekane Maqakachane, the President of the Law Society of Lesotho and a law lecturer at NUL.
The training comes after many concerns were raised in the media that the mushrooming of political parties in Lesotho is a sign of an ailing democracy rather than the promotion of diversity and pluralism.

Hardly a year passes without a new political party being formed in the country.
There are close to 30 parties for a small nation of about two million people – and less than a million of the population is eligible to vote.
In a study conducted by Dr Khabele Matlosa and Caleb Sello in 2005, sponsored by EISA, it is said “there is no doubt that political parties in Lesotho will have to play a critical role for the country to achieve the primary goal of Vision 2020”.

Vision 2020 says Lesotho shall have ‘a stable democracy, a united nation, a nation at peace with itself and its neighbours, a healthy and well-developed human resource base, a strong economy and prosperous nation, a well-managed environment and a well-established technology’.

The study observes that “while Lesotho’s three decades of post-independence politics have been marked by incessant conflict and instability, the country today enjoys a stable multiparty system, although the relics of a political culture of violence persist”.

“The challenge facing the country today is to nurture and consolidate the democratic gains so far achieved, and political parties are supposed to play a key role in this process,” the study reveals.

’Makhotso Rakotsoane

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