By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The renowned activist and a journalist Kananelo Boloetse has won an appeal case relating to the national reforms.

Boloetse had appealed the Constitutional Court ruling of August that had dismissed his prayer to have the parliament interdicted from continuing with the passing of the 11th Amendment to the Constitution from the state it was when the 10th parliament was dissolved last year ahead of the October general elections.

The co-founder of Advocates for the Supremacy of the Constitution, also known as Section 2 and present Chairperson of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho Chapter Boloetse had approached the Court of Appeal seeking inter alia that the national reforms should be introduced afresh in parliament.

The 11th parliament had resurrected the reforms from the 10th parliament whose term ended before it can complete this national task.

Effectively, Boloetse the applicant wanted the second court of record to declare the Parliament Standing Order 105 B invalid.

This Standing Order says “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”.

He said the Bill had “died” when the 10th parliament tenure expires last year. “There is no substantive law provision in section 78 of the Constitution and/or anywhere in the Constitution permitting the reinstatement of the bills that died upon dissolution of the parliament…”.

Boloetse felt 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”. 

Reading the judgment partly last week Friday at the apex court, Prof Kananelo Mosito who is also the President of that court said the following is ordered:

  1. The appeal is upheld.
  2. The order of the High Court is set aside, and replaced by the following:
  3. Secular No.5 of 2023, and Standing Order No. 10 (58) of 2022 are declared constitutionally invalid and thus null and void.
  4. The respondents are jointly and severally restrained to promulgate into law any bill that lapsed at the dissolution of the 10th parliament.
  5. His Majesty the King of Lesotho is restrained from giving royal ascent to any bill that was unfinished at the dissolution of the 10th parliament.

There were concerns from many quarters that the 10th parliament had expunged many clauses from the 11th Amendment to the Constitution famously known as the Omnibus Bill proposes the change in how governance should be conducted. Originally this Bill contained about 90 constitutional amendments, and in their responses the previous government and the present government had argued that not everything should be anchored into the Constitution saying there will be amendments which will promulgated into Acts.

Just last week, the Senate passed the motion calling for all sides both in government and opposition to give priority to the national reforms and priority to passing of the Omnibus Bill.

There are seven thematic areas which are media sector reforms, economic reforms, judiciary reforms, public service reforms, security reforms, parliamentary reforms and constitutional reforms.

The National reforms are expected to create lasting political stability for the “Lesotho we want”. They are to be passed by both chambers of the parliament- the National Assembly and the Senate.

It is expected then that the Minister of Justice and Law will table the National Reforms Authority (NRA)’s report in the National Assembly- the report which the presiding officer will refer to relevant portfolio committees to engage it and summon different stakeholders to have a say and consequently shape the direction at which it would be formulated in to the law.

Last year, Boloetse along with Advocate Lintle Tuke challenged the purported ‘State of Emergency’ that was mounted by the then Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s administration in order to pass the reforms as they failed due to the end of life of the 10th parliament, and the Constitutional Court ruled in their favour, the ruling which was later upheld by the Appeal Court. Effectively, the courts reversed all laws passed during that period making a way for the incoming- 11th parliament to pass them.