EARLIER this year, there was talk about the intention to prorogue parliament. That provoked me to write an article in the March 30 edition of the Sunday Express entitled “Effects of prorogation of parliament”.
Luckily, that prorogation never occurred.
The gist of my message then was that a good device or a handy constitutional and parliamentary tool like prorogation ought not to be put to abuse/misuse.
It is designed to perfect parliamentary democracy. It should not to be used to avoid or evade genuine democratic processes of a House of parliament.
Its effects can be far reaching. If correctly used, it can terminate a session prematurely or formally terminate an ending session.
That is good use of prorogation.
Prorogation can be invoked deliberately to change a known policy of government; such as killing a bill which has been passed but not yet assented to by Head of State.
That is a tool to avoid defective or unpopular laws. Every government has a right to change its policies in the national interest.
Its negative effect is that it quashes all the unfinished business of parliament.
There has to be a deliberate wish to clean the slate or table to prepare for the next session to start with a new programme.
It is doubtful if the coalition has any policy or programme to change, justifying prorogation.
Why is this Royal Prerogative invoked now? Lesotho parliament is currently on recess for winter. It is likely to reconvene in September.
Why can’t that which deserves to be fixed be done over this three month recess?
Could there be an ulterior motive and desire to run the marathon alone?
Could there be no other remedies, rather than misusing this valuable tool?
Indeed, the Lesotho constitution provides for the prime minister to advice the Head of State to prorogue parliament.
That provision should not be used arbitrarily. The constitution assumes normal circumstances such as when a single party has majority rule or, in the situation of a coalition, with the support of other coalition leaders.
The 8th parliament has a coalition which implies Prime Minister Thomas Thabane consults the other two leaders. Otherwise, he would be singing out of tune.
This, therefore, casts doubts on whether Dr Thabane’s tuning fork is properly engineered to enable him to lead a choir of three political parties?
Is Dr Thabane adequately or properly advised to make informed decisions?
The arithmetic and logic of a weak or easily threatened actor can easily be turned up-side-down by harmless incidents during sittings of the House.
To avoid that, sittings can be avoided through prorogation, unfortunately.
This raises another interesting scenario. It implies that the executive lacks authority and influence in the running of parliament.
The so-called majority is no majority to rely upon. Under such situations, the executive is under threat and weak to govern.
- Honourable Makhabane Maluke is the Bobatsi Number 80 Constituency Member of Parliament and belongs to the main opposition Democratic Congress.