Nthatuoa Koeshe and Pascalinah Kabi
LESOTHO will hold a National Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on 16 and 17 November 2017 as the country embarks on reforming the judiciary, constitutional, security, legislature, public service and media sectors.
Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki revealed yesterday that the reforms process was likely to take one to three years to ensure they are comprehensive.
Mr Moleleki said this while officially opening a two-day Post-Election National Dialogue at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru. Organised by the Lesotho Council of Non-government Organisations (LCN), the forum was meant to discuss the situation in the country after the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections and to chart a way for the implementation of the multi-sectoral reforms.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator to Lesotho and South African Vice-President, Cyril Ramaphosa, attended yesterday’s session to express support for the dialogue from the region.
Also in attendance were members of opposition political parties and representatives of various local and international NGOs.
Mr Moleleki said the Post-Election National Dialogue had come at the right time as it helped set the tone for discussions on the envisaged reforms.
The 37th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held in Pretoria, South Africa in August mandated the government of Lesotho to develop and submit a roadmap on the implementation of SADC decisions with “concrete, clear milestones, and deliverables and report progress” at the next meeting of the Double Troika Summit set to be held before November 2017.
Among the regional bloc’s decisions on Lesotho include the implementation of multi-sectoral reforms to nip in the bud the perennial convulsions that have plagued the Kingdom.
“Indeed, the holding of this dialogue is the build up to the proposed, impending and highly anticipated national multi-stakeholder dialogue as recommended by SADC,” Mr Moleleki said.
He said the meeting was an important gathering not only for the people of Lesotho but for the region at large, adding that SADC had assisted Lesotho throughout the country’s challenges financially, technically and in terms of human resources.
Mr Moleleki added that the government was committed to implementing all SADC decisions.
In his remarks, Mr Ramaphosa said it was imperative for all stakeholders to have a shared vision on institutional reforms to ensure the deepening of the rule of law.
“This process provides an opportunity for everyone to put their views across, to build bridges and to forge trust – which has been most lacking for many of us who have been involved in matters that have been of great challenge to you as Basotho,” he said.
“The convening of this two-day dialogue process crowns the involvement and intervention of SADC in recent months in efforts to guide Lesotho onto a new path. This dialogue process provides an opportunity for everyone to put their views, to build bridges, and to forge trust.”
Only the people of Lesotho, Mr Ramaphosa said, would be able to spearhead the reforms process.
“Even as SADC took the decision to recommend a multi-stakeholder process, we were aware that it is only the people of Lesotho who would be able to manage the process, to lead the process and to be involved in the process themselves; all others would just play a supportive, encouraging and observer role,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
LCN Commissioner Lebohang Molibeli said the reform process needed to be sustainable and that Lesotho could not continue to have two-year elections cycles.
“We need more dialogue both politically and socially, to find agreement on development approaches that have the best chances for improving the life opportunities of most Basotho and to finally build a social contract between citizens and government, on the basis of expectations of citizens and the realities of governance,” Mr Molibeli said.
For his part, United Nations Resident Coordinator Salvator Niyonzima urged Basotho to resist the urge to point fingers in the face of disagreement.
“Instead, we should identify the issues that need further dialogue and could help us strengthen our democracy and nationhood,” Mr Niyonzima said.