‘Reforms should not be elitist’

‘Reforms should not be elitist’

Rose Moremoholo

MASERU – CIVIL society has urged political parties to ensure that everyone is involved in the constitutional, security, public service and judiciary reforms.
This call was made last week when the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) and the Development for Peace Education (DPE) presented their joint proposals for the reform process.
It was during the week in which opposition parties complained that the SADC Oversight Committee and the government did not engage them when the reforms processes were launched. He reforms were recommended by the Phumaphi Commission and endorsed by SADC which has since called on the government to ensure that they are implemented in totality. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili seems to have obliged despite allegations from the opposition that he is doing so half-heartedly.
Civil society organisations last week insisted that democracy demands that public participation should be adhered to.
The LCN and DPE said the result of the reforms should be wholly representative of the views of the nation.

Speaking at the handing over of the proposals document to opposition parties both in and out of parliament, National University of Lesotho (NUL) political science lecturer Dr Motlamelle Kapa said public participation should not be neglected. The government did not attend the event. Kapa said “we need to communicate why we need reforms and where are they needed so that we can have stability in the country”. “Reforms should belong to everyone,” Kapa said

The DPE director, Sofonia Shale, said there is need for political parties to map the way for the reform process with the aim to ensure that nobody is locked out.
He called on the government to urgently facilitate the return of the exiled opposition leaders and other Basotho who have skipped the country.
“Civil society has keen interest in the reforms process in the country, this has been proven by constant position of the sector on the matter throughout the different stages of the development of the matter,” Shale said.

He said issues pertaining to reforms are sensitive and need to be treated with care.
“What will we do to see to it that every voice, every Mosotho becomes part of (the reforms)?” Shale said.
Shale added it is important for all opinions canvassed during the reform process to be carefully considered regardless of the status of those who have submitted them.
The views of those in power matter as much as the people in the villages, he said.

He said it is for these reasons that the civil society is committed to ensure that making reforms becomes a people’s not elitist process.
The proposal says “the reforms process shall be people driven, participatory and enabling in its organisation, conduct and accessibility”.
“In this line, there shall be an inclusive independent multi-layered gender balanced structure to be referred to as the reform Commission or Committee with authority mandate shared into roles and duties distributed in the following hierarchy,” Shale said.

By ‘hierarchy’ Shale was referring to a chairperson, preferably a retired judge, who will be a presiding officer and administrative authority with three deputies.
It is also proposed that there should be a reforms commission comprised of 102 stakeholders, which shall be answerable directly to parliament on financing, accountability and reforms outcomes.
The proposal further said the identification and deliberation of the reforms should be inclusive and people-driven, transparent process aimed at building consensus among Basotho on how their country should be governed.

Shale said the environment in which the reforms will take place need to be conducive.
“In order for the process to be legitimate and for it to enjoy the trust of the broader section of the people of Lesotho certain immediate issues have to be addressed. The safe return home of opposition leaders and others is considered as an urgent matter for reform and be handled fairly, honestly, seriously and convincingly by the Prime Minister and leaders outside the country,” Shale said.

Seabata Motsamai, the LCN director, said for a long time Lesotho has had many conflicts and different remedies have been used but none of them have “cured the disease”.
“We need to find ways of treating this disease,” Motsamai said.
“We need to ask ourselves if reforms are the way to go to better treat this disease.”
“If it is the best remedy we call upon political parties to see to it that public participation is mandatory in these reforms.”

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