Reforms must succeed

Reforms must succeed

AT last, there finally seems to be some movement on the urgent issue of political, security sector and civil service reforms as mandated by SADC. Since last week, the government has been engaging in consultative meetings with key stakeholders to forge consensus on the reforms. This week, the government met media managers and owners for a briefing. As media, we play a critical role in informing the nation and we will happily play our part in line with our mandate.

The consultative meetings are indeed a very good idea. This is because the reform process will only kick-start in earnest when there is a buy-in from all key stakeholders. The coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has so far demonstrated that it is committed to ensuring the reforms succeed. When there was a national uproar after it “prematurely” brought the Reforms Bill to Parliament, the government promptly withdrew the Bill to ensure national consensus. In doing so, it did not lose any face. That is what leadership is all about – demonstrating a responsive attitude when there is a national outcry. It could have chosen to railroad the process yet it did not do so.

Of course the government has a constitutional mandate to govern. It therefore follows that it should be allowed to kick-start the process. Of course this should not mean that the government should hijack the process and railroad its own position on the reforms. What it should do is create an enabling environment for the reforms to proceed. We are pleased that the government seems to be proceeding on the matter with this understanding in mind. (See article on this page titled, Reforms: towards the Lesotho we want) The reforms process is not a government process. It is a national project that seeks to extricate Lesotho from the doldrums and usher in a new “Lesotho that we all want”.

This should be a Lesotho where the rule of law, democracy and good governance shall prevail. It is critical therefore that the process of reforms should be as inclusive as is humanely possible. We understand that there is already a process to ensure the reforms are as inclusive as possible with the government, led by Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane, leading the process to engage opposition leaders in exile. That engagement must continue behind the scenes so that all Basotho, irrespective of their political shade, are included in the process. This is no time for political brinkmanship. A lot of economic resources will be ploughed into this project. It is also true this will not be a quick fix. More time might be required.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Basotho to fix what has been ailing their country. All must therefore be heard. It would be tragic were any section, particularly the opposition, were to throw tantrums and boycott the process. This is no time to boycott. It is time to engage the government on substantial issues and push your agenda while being part of the reforms process. Of course, the opposition might feel aggrieved as the government pursues a parallel process of reforms while also “prosecuting those accused of theft and gross violations of human rights”.

At some point the government might need to balance the two to ensure national cohesion and progress. If the opposition has serious concerns, we suggest they engage the government during private discussions and not seek to play to the gallery. We are persuaded to believe the government would want to see the bigger picture as it drives forward the reform agenda. We would like to believe they really want the reforms to succeed.

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