MASERU — The government remains adamant that it did not sabotage the dialogue process with opposition on the dispute over proportional representation seats as Ketumile Masire said in his statement last week.
The government has been on the defensive since last week insisting that they did nothing wrong.
The opposition has been on the offensive insisting that the Masire report had vindicated them.
This is the full response by Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla to the statement to the issues Masire raised:
My people I come to you today to clarify as briefly as possible some of the points featured in the Sir Ketumile Masire report which he delivered yesterday (last Thursday).
1. Sir Ketumile Masire has stressed that the Government of Lesotho pulled out of the agreement reached earlier on holding a seminar with the opposition political parties and all stakeholders involved in the politics of Lesotho.
Point of Clarification:
The position of the Government of Lesotho was that there should be a prior agreement reached by all stakeholders on steps that should be followed after the seminar.
Such an agreement had not yet been reached as it is explained in the Masire report.
The government has always wanted the seminar to be held but on the basis that there was a consensus reached on how the expert advice given to both parties would be applied.
The government’s position on this matter was that expert advice would help guide us all on how we can improve our general electoral system and what mistakes needed rectifying.
However, our counterparts from the opposition were of the opposing view that if experts pointed out that there were mistakes made in the allocation of Proportional Representation seats, there should be a review undertaken to correct the error. That would be tantamount to going against the decision made by the court.
2. The Masire document further states that the two main political parties, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the All Basotho Convention (ABC), were erroneously allowed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to enter into alliances with smaller parties without having been reformed into single entities.
Point of Clarification:
The High Court of Lesotho pointed out in the case lodged by the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) that there is no section of the law prohibiting political parties to enter into alliances.
It is not clarified in this document exactly how entering into an alliance with other parties undermined the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) model.
The point which Sir Ketumile Masire highlighted was actually a plea by the MFP to the High Court of Lesotho. I quote from the High Court judgement on the matter, sections B and C:
(i) Declaring as a single entity the alliance between the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the National Independent Party (NIP) in the 2007 election.
(ii) Declaring as a single entity the alliance between the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) in the 2007 election.
Upon delivering its judgment on this matter in section (53) the court stated, I quote, “. . . a Political Party is not prohibited under law to form any alliance or pact with any other Political Party or Parties and the Independent Electoral Commission is not enjoined to treat for purposes of PR allocation any alliance as a single entity.
If the IEC treated any unregistered as a single entity, it would be acting so ultra vires and allocation would have been illegal outright”.
In short the court’s decision states that there is no law prohibiting political parties to form alliances. It concludes by pointing out that had the IEC barred such alliances from coming to being it would have been an illegal move.
The government upholds the court’s decision which interprets the law, more especially because courts of law are the only institutions entitled to interpret the law the world over in every democratic dispensation.
3. The Masire report again states that entering into alliances by the said political parties undermined and distorted the MMP model in the allocation of seats in parliament.
Point of Clarification:
This point also falls in the category of issues put before the High Court of Lesotho by the MFP legal representatives, whereby the said court decided on the matter, which features in section (56) in the court judgement.
I quote: “That the alliance-formation tends to distort; or subvert; the Principle of Compensation under the PR system does not render alliance-formation illegal per se . . . but it is an aspect that ought to be corrected, or be controlled by Law”.
In a nutshell the court’s decision means that the argument that alliances distort MMP, does not necessarily amount to the
breach of law…..but that the court recommended that this issue should be deliberated on and only changed if there is the necessity to do so.
4. The jurisdiction of the High Court to preside over cases dealing with election results as well as the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to preside over similar cases.
Point of Clarification
The Basotho nation will recall that the government presented a bill in the National Assembly granting the Court of Appeals the jurisdiction to preside over cases related to election results.
This bill created a great deal of commotion especially in the opposition parties who claimed that the LCD administration was trying to pass that bill because it had lost its case and therefore wanted to create a chance to get to appeal the court’s decision.
You will recall that the state held a string of press conferences to brief media about the core of the issue and to explain our understanding of cases dealing with elections; the fact that such cases are of utmost importance as they play a huge role in the formation of a government.
Therefore it would be wise for those who have concerns to have the privilege of reaching the climax of the dissemination of justice through the Court of Appeals.
However, you all are witness to the fact that the House of Senate rejected the amendment. This means in this case the government had absolutely no problem whatsoever.
5. The High Court of Lesotho ‘decided not to decide’ in the case involving Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP).
Point of Clarification
It is not clear to us as the government as to what this statement featured in the Sir Ketumile Masire report means.
The court made its decision that it would have been a breach of the law to consider political parties which entered into alliances as a single entity. The decision was solely based on the plea presented before the High Court by the MFP.
Again you will recall that in the process of delivering this speech, I directly quoted the plea (prayer) put before the court is enshrined in (5) (b) and (c) and the court’s decision on the issues appearing in section (53).
Therefore we fail to comprehend what Sir Ketumile Masire’s conclusion is based on.
The nation will recall that Sir Ketumile Masire’s engagement in the politics of Lesotho was for the sole purpose of facilitating dialogue between the concerned parties and hopefully help them reach a common solution regarding the political impasse.
He was also given directions as to what was expected of him, which clearly feature in his report.
Where there is need for conflict management, there are different systems applied to get to the solution inclusive of:
All these steps are different in application. A facilitator is only a guide as was the case with Sir Ketumile Masire. An arbitrator on the other hand has the power to make decisions on the tasks he is given and in most cases his decisions are final and cannot be challenged.
Hence our understanding is that points which appear in the Masire report are his own personal opinions as an individual; opinions which some may be misled to interpret as conclusive decisions.
The fact of the matter is that he has to relay the result of his mission to those who tasked him with the responsibility of engaging in our issues, which is SADC.