From the Office of the NRTO Chief Executive Officer
24 February 2023
The Government of Lesotho has embarked on the briefing and consultation sessions with representatives of various stakeholders that have a stake in the national reforms to seek their views on the reforms implementation process going forward. The government, which is three-months in office, is soliciting the stakeholders’ views and inputs on the modalities for going forward with the national reforms. This comes after a lull period since the expiry of the tenure of office of the national reforms implementing agency, the National Reforms Authority (NRA).
The Government’s view is that they will not reinvent the wheel on the reforms trajectory, but would instead, build on what has already been developed to ensure that the country crusades on a reform journey. There is a 10th Constitutional Amendment Bill, which could not see light of day as a result of coming to an end of the 10th Parliament’s term on the 13 July 2023. Efforts were made to ensure that the Constitutional Amendment Bill finally went through parliament.
His Majesty King Letsie III was advised by the then Prime Minister, to reconvene a special seating of Parliament to resume discussions on the 10th Amendment and pass the Bill, and indeed this was effected. However, this second effort to ensure a milestone was made on the reforms was challenged in the constitutional Court, with a verdict which overruled the King’s order and invalidated the passage of the 10th Constitutional Amendment. This stalled the reforms on the side of constitutional amendments.
However, it must be noted that the reforms are not limited to constitutional amendments. There is a wide array of reforms’ issues such as development of enabling legislation to operationalise the constitutional amendments, policies, development of inter-state procedures and codes of conduct, public institutions operational frameworks as well as promotion of stakeholder consensus on the national peace-building, unity and reconciliation.
The Government has therefore; proposed a different approach to the resumption of the process of re-tabling the 10th Constitutional Amendment Bill. It proposes a piece-meal approach, which might be two pronged. First, present to the National Assembly amendments that need simple and two thirds majority, the second batch will include provisions that require a two-thirds and a referendum to be passed by parliament. Therefore, the government proposes to table these two sets of amendments separately.
Another equally important issue that the government is proposing is that of a structure which will lead the national reforms, this is after the expiry of the tenure of office of the former National Reforms Authority, in April 2022. A National Reforms Transitional Office (NRTO), composed of the secretariat of the former NRA has been in office since the dissolution of the NRA and is continuing with the reforms.
So far, 10 sectors have been consulted by the Government and they include among others, political parties in parliament and outside parliament, civil society, youth, women, cultural organizations, veterans and Media. The Government has also met former prime ministers and deputy prime ministers. The consultations are ongoing and only three sectors are remaining.
After this exercise, the Government will craft a report on the inputs and views tendered by different stakeholders. The report will give impetus to the succeeding stages of reforms. Generally, the consulted sectors have expressed a positive view to the proposed piece meal approach on the constitutional amendments. Also, there is general view that the principle of inclusivity, ownership and transparency be maintained on the structure envisaged to take the reforms journey forward.