No money for reforms

No money for reforms

MASERU – LESOTHO’S reform process is under threat due to lack of funds, a cabinet minister has said, adding that the government is now scrounging around to ensure the money is available.
Law and Constitutional Affairs Minister Habofanoe Lehana told people participating at the NGOs Week indaba held at the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre on Monday that government was not yet sure how much exactly is needed.
“There is a financial problem but the government will help to solve (it) so that the reforms process runs smoothly,” Lehana said.
The principal secretary in the ministry, Colonel Tanki Mothae, said the reform process is vital for the well-being of the country, but more money is needed for expenses such as research and awareness workshops.
Research is key to understand issues as options and recommendations on floor-crossing, coalition formation and caretaker governments, party formation and other issues identified in previous reports and by current role players.

Funds are also needed to hold meetings with experts and relevant actors to publicise the contents of the research and empower people to have a better understanding of the issues and the implications of different options.
Funds are also needed for technical assistance in securing experts on administration of parliament to assist in preparing drafting instructions and possibly a legal drafter to prepare drafting instructions for the proposed Administration of Parliament Act.

There is also need to establish an information or research unit and to develop terms of reference and work plans for various players.
For this, there is need for technical support from experts with experience in empowering small parliaments in small countries.
Lehana said after seeking public opinion, the National Reforms Authority (NRA) was formed to help implement the reforms.
“If things go right, NRA will be launched by the end of this week,” he said.
He said Lesotho’s politics have always been characterized by a top down approach.

“Tax payers for a long time have not felt like masters of the executive,” the minister said.
He said the executive and parliament have been behaving like bosses and masters for a long time, leaving many Basotho with little room to participate in the governance of the country.
Lehana gave the example of the budget, which is often drafted with minimal participation from the government.
Lehana said outside influence can be a problem to NRA members, and that political agendas can pose a problem and turn into a big challenge.
Foreign influence must be carefully managed, he said.

Col. Mothae said while Lesotho gained political independence decades ago, economic independence is still a mirage.
“That is why we now have challenges,” Col. Mothae said.
He said reforms, if properly executed, could help alleviate poverty and ensure security and stability.
He said the past few years have shown that Lesotho could degenerate into a failed state if reforms are not implemented.

“If Lesotho did not think of reforms, she would sink into a mire of problems,” Col. Mothae said.
Col. Mothae said Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his coalition partners are committed to implementing the reforms.
He said Lesotho appreciated the role played by regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to help solve Basotho problems.

The Development for Peace Education (DPE) national coordinator, Sofonea Shale, said they formed the National Dialogue Plenary Committee (NDPC) because of lack of trust among politicians.
The DPE animator, ’Mabataung Secker, called for equality before the law.
Secker noted that there was a lack of respect for human rights in Lesotho, an issue that the reforms should tackle.
Secker gave the example of security and judicial institutions that are routinely captured by the political elite.

Nkheli Liphoto

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