‘Marafaele Mohloboli | Bereng Mpaki
THE head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitation team to Lesotho, Dikgang Moseneke, says his team is happy with Lesotho’s progress towards implementing the multi-sector reforms.
The constitutional, security sector, media, judicial and governance reforms were recommended by the regional body in 2016. Lesotho has missed previous deadlines due to bickering between the government and opposition. The country now has a revised October 2021 deadline to have implemented constitutional reforms which will be used as the basis for holding next year’s elections.
Retired former South African Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke, who has been mediating in the reforms process, this week jetted into the country to assess progress on the reforms ahead of the SADC summit in Malawi on the 17th of this month. At the summit, Justice Moseneke is expected to present a report on his mandate.
Justice Moseneke and his team arrived on Tuesday and by yesterday, they had met with His Majesty, King Letsie III; Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, the National Reforms Authority (NRA) secretariat and political leaders.
Yesterday, he told journalists in Maseru that they were delighted with the progress made so far.
“We are getting to the zenith, we have done extremely well and we are delighted that so many pieces of legislation have been prepared towards the implementation of constitutional, legislative and governance reforms,” Justice Moseneke said.
“We have been assured that these will consolidated together in an omnibus bill and these will be tabled in parliament.
“There will be work after the consolidated bills have been tabled in parliament- there will be debates and adoption. We should not forget that our aim is to have all these adopted before the elections which shall be held under the new laws. That is why this is a very important step of our journey.”
Justice Moseneke said the reforms progress was one of the few bright spots in a region that has generally been troubled by conflicts in different countries including eSwatini and Mozambique.
“From here, we should be able to report to SADC (summit) which is sitting in two weeks’ time. The obvious question from the other countries in the region will be how far has Lesotho gone towards implementing the reforms.
“We must remember that SADC is going through a very difficult time especially in Swaziland (eSwatini) and Mozambique. So, what is happening in Lesotho becomes more significant because this is a success story,” Justice Moseneke said.
He also said they were encouraged by the discussions on the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill which had been initiated a fortnight ago by the NRA.
The Bill proposes establishment of a National Peace and Unity Commission with powers to grant high-profile criminal suspects amnesty on condition they fully confess their crimes and show remorse.
“We are delighted that the NRA has started a peace architecture discussion and Basotho will have to look in the mirror and decide how far back they want to go (with when the proposed Commission will investigate human rights abuses). They will have to decide whether or not they want reparations,” he said.
The controversial Bill has divided the two main governing parties, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC).
The ABC and some victims of human rights abuses have outrightly rejected the Bill on the grounds that it is aimed at saving the DC’s members and allies who have been implicated in various crimes from facing justice for their actions.
The ABC has even claimed that it was not consulted in the drafting of the Bill.
On the other hand, DC leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu and fellow congress politicians have all defended the Bill, saying the establishment of the National Peace and Unity Commission is a sure way to achieve, peace, reconciliation, unity and stability in the country.
Meanwhile, Justice Moseneke and his team are today expected to meet church leaders, chiefs, civil society organisations as well as King Letsie III for a final debriefing session before their departure.