King warns politicians
- says leaders must reform themselves first
- laws alone cannot save Lesotho
Ntsebeng Motsoeli/Pascalinah Kabi
KING Letsie III has warned that if local political leaders do not reform themselves first, then the on-going national reforms processes would be in vain.
The King said this to an enchanted audience in his keynote address at the end of the second plenary of the Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue Programme in Maseru yesterday.
The ceremony marked the end of the national dialogue process and will be followed by the appointment of the National Reforms Authority on 6 December 2019. The dialogue revolved around seven thematic arrears namely; parliamentary, constitutional, economic, public service, media, judiciary and security sector reforms segments.
His Majesty said merely enacting reforms and legislation would be futile if Basotho do not start putting action into words. He said reforms must start with individuals entrusted with the responsibility to implement them to faithfully translate Basotho’s views and aspirations into reality.
He said Basotho must start putting into practice the words in the national anthem which encourage Basotho to live in peace and harmony.
“I hope and trust that the words in our national anthem sink in our hearts so that we can leave behind our norms and practices of arguing and fighting among ourselves,” the King said.
“Allow me to repeat myself and remind you that reforms alone are not the ultimate solution to the challenges that we have,” he said to a thunderous applause from the audience.
“As long as we don’t change our mindsets and habits, no matter how good legislation we enact across the globe, this will just be a futile exercise,” he said to another rapturous applause.
It was therefore crucial for everyone to start reforming individually and ask God for assistance.
His Majesty pleaded for unity among the country’s citizens in building a country that can be envied by the world.
He said there were glaring divisions among the citizens because of deeply entrenched political polarisation. He added that the country’s precarious security situation had caused some to seek refuge in neighbouring South Africa.
“The right thing to do now and in the days ahead would be for those who have been entrusted with the responsibility to implement the reforms to faithfully translate those views and aspirations into reality. Let me remind you of a popular Latin idiom which means the voice of the people is the voice of God,” His Majesty said.
On his part, Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator to Lesotho and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Lesotho was on a path to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and that all African countries must set up their efforts to strengthen political stability.
“Now is the time for both the national reforms authority and parliament to realise the aspirations that have been so eloquently articulated through this national dialogue process.
“The kingdom is now on a positive trajectory; let us keep it up and let us not falter. Let us remain resolute. Let us ensure that the foundation laid today for peace, stability and development in the Kingdom is jealously guarded,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
European Union (EU) ambassador to Lesotho, Christian Manahl, said the country had solid democratic foundations and traditions and had considerable potential.
“But apparently, the constitutional and legal framework is not in line anymore with the political and social dynamics of the country…this framework has not ensured the stability of government, security of all citizens and the predominance of the common good over particular or personal interest,” Dr Manahl said.
He said every country or political entity must review and update its governance structures from time to time to keep in pace with the ever-changing world.
He said Lesotho had symptoms which showed that review and update of governance structures were needed.
“Too many governments have not completed their terms in the past decade. Too many people have perished in the recurrent political violence or due to the act of rogue elements in the security forces. Too many Basotho look towards the government for employment in a country which officially states in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) that the private sector should be the engine of growth and employment creation.”
He said the continuous trekking to South Africa for opportunities by Basotho was indicative of the need to update the country’s governance structure.
“Too many people are struggling to make a living without any formal employment at all. Too many people are languishing in prisons waiting for months, even years for their trials because of lack of resource in the judiciary. Too many people are going hungry because they have already been living in precarious conditions before the drought has pushed them over the brink,” Dr Manahl said.
Dr Manahl said Lesotho had also missed several chances for political and social reconciliation because of distrust and suspicion between politicians and the people where personal ambitions often prevailed over public interest.
“Today you can make history. Change will not come overnight. It will take time and the next phase of the reforms will require a lot of effort, patience and a strong sense of cooperation and compromise,” Dr Manahl said.
Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, pledged full commitment and support to the process.
“We must remain true to the ideals of our founding father Moshoeshoe I. The problems that confront us as a nation must teach us one thing that we are in a sinking ship… It is up to us to act together for the better or we perish together,” Mr Mokhothu, who is also the official leader of the opposition, said.
On his part, SADC mediator Justice Dikgang Moseneke said: “Africa deserves better. We do not deserve to idle in poverty and backwardness. We don’t deserve governments which are less than what we should have.
“Let’s make sure that something comes out of this effort,” Justice Moseneke said.