‘Human rights will be top of our agenda’

‘Human rights will be top of our agenda’

Maseru –  AS the new government is set to take over tomorrow following the swearing-in of Thomas Thabane as Prime Minister, MPs of the ruling parties have pledged to bring major changes.
thepost’s reporter, Majara Molupe, spoke to the Basotho National Party (BNP)’s Machesetsa Mofomobe and the Alliance of Democrats (AD)’s MP, Thuso Litjobo, on the new government’s agenda. Below are excerpts of the interview:

Which issues do you want the incoming government to address urgently?
Mofomobe: There are a lot of issues that we are going to implement as the 10th Parliament. Accountability will be our primary assignment because parliament plays an oversight role on what the government is doing or intending to do.
We will have to enact laws which are important to the Basotho nation as whole, not harsh laws like the previous government has done.

Any example of laws you are talking about?
Mofomobe: The Human Rights Commission (should be established as required by the constitution) as a body that is meant to protect the rights and interests of the Basotho nation.  The composition of the Human Rights Commission should be reviewed because it is not like what is supposed to be like. Once we assume power as the new MPs, we will tirelessly try to ensure that the Human Rights Commission resembles its counterparts globally.

I am also going to work without respite to ensure that the Road Traffic Act of 1981 and the 1979 Public Order Act are reviewed.
I have lodged a case in court challenging the 1979 Public Order. It is unconstitutional and i am still going to continue with that case.
Litjobo: I would like to see the new government prioritising job creation to reduce the level of youth unemployment. There are many youths who are roaming the streets without jobs but with academic qualifications.
Those youths are from tertiary institutions. The new government has to create jobs for those youths and should create an enabling environment for the youth to start businesses so that they become self-employed.
Mofomobe: I find it unacceptable that MPs have access to M500 000 interest free loans while Basotho are left out there hallowing in abject poverty.

This provision should be ended because it does not benefit Basotho. This government must bring positive changes to Basotho.
Instead of growing the capital budget we are busy ballooning the recurrent budget through arrangements such as this one. We will have to ensure that a sizable part of the budget is for capital not for recurrent expenditure.
This will help a great deal of Basotho to have a meaningful share of the cake. This new government will have a mammoth task to accomplish.

We seriously need to allocate funds to important public institutions like the National University of Lesotho, which is currently facing serious problems that want serious intervention of the government.
Unfortunately, the government seems to be silent while Lesotho’s education at its highest echelons is grappling with complexities.

There are several issues that you complained about ahead of the election, such as the full implementation of SADC decisions, what can you say now that you are in government?
Mofomobe: As the new government, it will be within our mandate to ensure that the SADC recommendations are fully implemented. SADC formed a commission of enquiry led by a Botswana retired judge Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi to investigate circumstances leading to the death of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao.  Upon its completion, the commission made some recommendations that the government of Lesotho should implement. But some of the recommendations have not been implemented.  They are still gathering dust on government shelves. Failure to implement some of the SADC recommendation is likely to plunge this country into gloom. Lesotho’s development partners like the European Union are likely to pull out from backing Lesotho with financial assistance.
It is practically impossible for a country like Lesotho to survive without international financial back-up. It is only if we comply with the SADC recommendations that we could be backed up financially by the international bodies like the EU.
We can hardly survive without development partners. If we do not implement SADC recommendations, chances are also high that we are likely to lose the AGOA opportunities.

\It is through AGOA that Lesotho has managed to attract international investors to invest in the garment and fabric factories.
Most of them are from Asia especially China and Taiwan. Lesotho has created more than 40 000 jobs through AGOA.
Litjobo: SADC decisions must be implemented fully. Since the out-going government has failed to implement the SADC decisions and Phumaphi recommendations, we are going to ensure that they are implemented.
Lesotho is a founding member of SADC and Lesotho has good relations with the SADC member states. There is no way that we cannot implement its recommendations or decisions.

What promise do you have about fighting corruption?
Litjobo: The new government has to wage war against corruption in all its forms. We are going to fight against corruption at all levels of governance. We have witnessed when corruption, left unbridled, unseated the out-going government led by Pakalitha Mosisili, the leader of Democratic Congress. When we were still members of the DC we complained aloud saying the Mosisili-led government was corrupt.
We were citing the Bidvest fleet services deal as an example. The government had awarded the fleet tender to Bidvest illegally and as such, that is corruption. We decided to defect from DC because we did not want to be associated with corrupt deals.

How do you want the new government to deal with those who could have looted public funds?
Litjobo: The new government is going to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission where (individuals) will have to appear before it and declare what they have illegally taken from the government.  No legal action will be taken against those who will voluntarily declare what they illegally took from the government.  And if they fail to do so, and the police and the DCEO find that they illegally took anything from the government to benefit themselves, they will have to face the wrath of the law.

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