By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- Southern African Development Community (SADC) has again reemphasized on the need for the country to speedily complete the ongoing comprehensive national reforms. 

The regional economic community (REC) comprising of 16 countries including Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe had echoed its call for the prioritization of the passage of the reforms which are expected to address the country’s many challenges.

This has transpired during the recently held Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government held on November 4, in Luanda, Angola.

“[The] Summit reiterated the urgent need for all stakeholders, in particular, political parties in the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Lesotho, to ensure that the reform process is brought to finality in the interest of national political, economic and security stability,” reads the SADC communiqué in pertinent part.

SADC along with other international institutions such as the African Union, the United Nations (UN), the European Union and the Commonwealth have supported the reforms with both the finances and the technical assistance. These institutions have vested interests in the passage of the national reforms.

Last week, the SADC Delegation led by the President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema in his capacity  as the SADC Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation arrived in the country last week in a routine study tour to understand and receive an update on the progress of the reforms. The delegation also comprised the Chairperson of the SADC Elders Panel, former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete and former vice-president of Mauritius Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory.

While in the country, the delegation had an audience with the government, members of the opposition parties in parliament and the members of the diplomatic community. The delegation had reported to SADC its findings.

It came to the country following correspondence made by the Prime Minister (PM) Ntsokoane Matekane and the members of the opposition.

The PM had on October 20 written to President Hichilema raising concerns about the opposition’s move to table a motion of no confidence in his led government. He had also sent the special envoy to represent him before the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Hon Lejone Mpotjoane.

“Your Excellency [Hichilema], it is evident that the motion of no confidence in question is motivated by greed, selfishness and the desire to subvert our democratic norms and principles.  Moreover there are certain individuals in Parliament who are determined to destabilise the Government with the ultimate goal of derailing the reforms agenda for their own selfish interests, with little or no regard for the “The Lesotho Want (sic)”.

Three days after the PM’s letter to SADC, the leaders of opposition parties in parliament also penned the letter to the SADC Executive Secretary Elias Magosi.

It reads “As the leaders of opposition political parties in the Parliament of Lesotho we deem it extremely urgent to communicate to your good office our collective apprehension of unfolding developments which represents an eminent threat to the constitutional order in the Kingdom. We do so in the genuine hope that your intervention may help avert the threat.”

They reported to him of their move to unseat the present government through the motion of no confidence as sanctioned by the Section 87 of the Constitution and the National Assembly Standing Order NO 110. The motion of no confidence is pending debate in parliament owing to the ongoing court case challenging it.

The reforms are envisaged to facilitate the “national transformation of Lesotho to a just, prosperous and stable society through: Promotion of long-term national stability, unity and reconciliation; creation of professional, functioning and effective institutions for the efficient management of public affairs, service delivery and development; and building a national consensus on and implementation of constitutional changes as needed.”

The opposition had since accused the government of failing to pass the reforms, instead they were passing them piecemeal.

Speaking to national television upon their return from the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit on Sunday,  the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations pointed out that the reforms bills will be processed once the court had made a ruling on the court case involving the national reforms.

The prominent journalist and activist, Kananelo Boloetse, has lodged an appeal case challenging the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judgment that says the incoming parliament can resume the business from the previously dissolved parliament.

By this ruling, the ConCourt has effectively endorsed the National Assembly Standing Order 105 B, which says the “Business that has lapsed with dissolution or prorogation of Parliament may be reinstated by resolution of the House and will be resumed in the National Assembly at the stage it had reached in the previous Parliament”.

In his prayers, Boloetse argues that “initiating the bill from reinstatement violates [his] right to participate in the law-making process and/ or the Senate right provided in section 20 and 78 respectively”. 

Meanwhile, the apex court will deliver the ruling on this matter on November 17.