Judge lashes at negative cultural practices

Judge lashes at negative cultural practices

Rose Moremoholo

MASERU – THE chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Justice Mahapela Lehohla has expressed concern ‘negative cultural practices that continue to enslave women.
Justice Lehohla made the remarks while officially opening a Gender Policy and Electoral Law Reform workshop in Maseru on Monday.
He said while the Constitution guarantees certain freedoms for women, the women have clung to old practices that enslave them.

Justice Lehohla said in some instances women are “so enslaved to being creatures of habit that even when the Constitution itself provided for equality of sexes in Lesotho none ventured to approach the Court in regard to instances where this provision was flouted”.
Justice Lehohla likened this to a thoroughly yoke-trained ox.

“Notwithstanding that the strap tying this ox to the yoke had long got unstrapped, the ox dutifully carried the yoke on its neck until when a gadfly bit it around the neck did the ox in violent reaction to the sting, by throwing its head back throw away the yoke instantly,” Justice Lehohla said.

He said cultural biases against women, institutional weaknesses, intricate legal frameworks and misunderstood complexities on constitutional intricacies have “inhibited Basotho’s ability to express their choices freely in elections”.

He also said inclusive participation in elections is crucial to sustenance of strong democracy.
“We know that democracy is based on expression of the public will through periodic free and fair elections,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, IEC commissioner Advocate ’Mamosebi Kabi Pholo said political and electoral participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities remains a major concern.

“Today only 30 out of 120 seats (25 percent) in the National Assembly and only 8 of 33 seats (24 percent) in the Senate are held by women,” Pholo said.
Pholo said in the last election in 2015 the African Union recommended that the government of Lesotho should put in place measures that will enhance the full participation and representation of women, youth and people with disabilities in elective offices in line with Article 8 of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
The workshop, which ends tomorrow, intends to look into the legal framework that is governing electoral processes and to develop recommendations for reform that can help lawmakers in further bolstering elections as an important institution of Lesotho’s democratic system of governance.

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