Top expert for reforms

Top expert for reforms

MASERU – RENOWNED law professor, Shadrack Gutto, could be one of the experts who will be roped in to help drive Lesotho’s constitutional reform process.
Born in Kenya in 1951, Gutto is a respected academic who has been working in South Africa since 1994.

He teaches constitutional law at the University of South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand and several other universities in South Africa.

Gutto met Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing this week to discuss the possibility of him having a role in reforming the constitution.  Yesterday Gutto was reluctant to reveal the details of his discussion because he is still talking to the government.

He however briefly spoke about the constitutional reform process in general terms.
“A good constitution should be people driven. The participation of the people in any constitutional making process must be substantial and not just for window-dressing,” Gutto said.  “For a constitution to be regarded as good it must be driven and owned by the people of that particular country.”

Gutto said he believes the political crises Lesotho has experienced since independence cannot be solved without a new constitution “that speaks to the core issues that have caused the problems”.

“Lesotho is moving towards a third generation constitution so it should have learned from experience what kind of a constitution it thinks addresses its challenges,” he said.

“Different countries have different problems so a country decides a constitution that deals with its issues. The point is that constitutions are country specific even though they should be in line with regional and international dictates.”

The most important issue, he added, is that a constitution must belong to the people both in terms of their participation in its making and accepting it.

“It should be a constitution by the people, for the people and of the people.”
“Another fundamental issue is that a constitution should create a broader scope for the accountability of the government and leadership to the people of the country.”
Since his visit to Lesotho some politicians and observers have been curious about his credentials.

Such curiosity is justifiable given the sensitive nature of the constitutional reform process and the crucial role he is likely to play in it.

His academic qualifications are impeccable and he has a solid track record in pushing for good governance. In some circles he is considered a radical because of his outspoken character.

Over the years he has clashed with several oppressive regimes in Africa.
In 1982, during the Kenyan government’s crackdown on critical academics, Gutto was forced into exile and lived in Austria and the United Kingdom. Daniel Arap Moi’s government considered him an ‘enemy’ of the regime.

In 1983 he joined the University of Zimbabwe’s Law Faculty where he would spend the next five years until he “offended” President Robert Mugabe’s government with his activism.
In 1988 the government of Zimbabwe expelled him from the country and declared him persona non grata on unspecified “national security” grounds. His next destination was Sweden which had granted him refugee status.

While working at the University of Lundi’s Law faculty in Sweden Gutto completed his Doctorate in Sociology of Human Rights Law in 1993.

In 1995 he moved to South Africa where he joined the University of the Witwatersrand’s Law Faculty. Since then he has been invited to join or advise several committees and commissions in in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

This is in addition to his role in several universities at faculty, senate and council levels.
He has also worked as an ad-hoc legal expert consultant to the International Commission of Jurists, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations Development Programme and African Union and NEPAD.
A father of four daughters, he has been a South African citizen since 2000.

Staff Reporter

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