By:Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The Senate has appointed Dr Thabiso Lebese as Lesotho’s delegate to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).

This was confirmed by the Senate President Hon ‘Mamonaheng Mokitimi to this publication yesterday.

He is set to be sworn in next week during the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament slated to take place between June 24 to July 5 in Midrand, South Africa.

According to the statement issued by the PAP Secretariat, this session will convene under the African Union (AU) 2024’s theme titled ‘Educate an African Fit for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education System for Increased Access to Inclusive,  Lifelong, Quality, and Relevant Learning in Africa’.

Apart from the activities of the plenary session, the 11 permanent committees are expected to meet and those are Committees on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources; Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions; Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disabilities; Monetary and Financial Affairs; Transport, Industry,  Communications, Energy, Science and Technology; Rules, Privileges and Discipline; Justice and Human Rights; Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment and Audit and Public Accounts (CAPA).

Dr Lebese replaces the late Chieftainess Nthati Bereng, who passed on in April due to illness.

He mentioned the context of Lesotho in relation to SADC and asked what the country is doing to address the challenges it faces.

He said the country is confronted by many issues, including unemployment, poverty, and disasters brought by weather conditions.

“So, these things require concerted efforts. What can we do as a country and as a part of SADC to overcome these challenges? Take, for instance, the recent heavy storms and floods in Durban. Look at the power-sharing issues happening in South Africa and how they affect us as a country. We don’t know what it holds for us at the national level or at the SADC level. For us, South Africa is our only neighbor.

“I trust that engaging at the continental parliament level will help us learn about the challenges affecting our country and the region.”

He highlighted the events of 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak, where vaccines were unevenly distributed. He asked what needs to be done at the country, SADC, and continental levels in terms of readiness, preparedness, and resilience.

As a chair of Chairpersons in the Senate, he said the appointment came as a “surprise,” but he promised to serve Basotho and the country at the PAP.

Dr. Lebese holds a PhD in Horticultural Science from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Before joining the civil service as the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training, he was a lecturer at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

Dr Lebese was in 2018 appointed to the Institute of Development Management (IDM) Regional Board of Governors, and this includes representatives from the private sector, local universities, and high-level government officials from Botswana and Lesotho.

Additionally, the South African delegation is likely  to be sworn in following the recent elections held in May that produced the new parliament.

PAP is the legislative body of the AU.