National Dialogue spells out reform areas


Ntsebeng Motsoeli

THE three-day Multi-Stakeholders National Dialogue on the multi-sector reforms ended yesterday with the recommendations for reforms that will clearly delineate the mandates of the country’s four security agencies to prevent overlapping and duplication of roles.

The national dialogue, which was attended by leaders of political parties in government and in the opposition as well as other stakeholders, is expected to come up with an agenda for the constitutional, security sector, governance, judicial and media reforms that were recommended in 2016 by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

SADC has since given Lesotho up to May 2019 to have fully implemented constitutional and security sector reforms.

The country’s four security agencies are the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), the National Security Service (NSS) and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS).

The dialogue also recommended that the security agencies be equipped to deal with grand corruption and organised crime syndicates and that there was need for the evaluation of the security sector personnel renumeration. It was further recommended that promotions for security personnel be done on the recommendation of their immediate supervisors.

The dialogue also highlighted the need for the truth and reconciliation commission, the release of the political detainees and adherence to the rule of law regarding the detention of suspects.

Opposition leaders like the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothetjoa Metsing have been very vocal on the need for a TRC, saying this is the “only way the nation can open up and truly heal”.

Regarding the constitutional reforms, the dialogue recommended that the retiring age of judges be reduced from the age of 75 to 60. It was also recommended that the parliament and cabinet size be reduced because they were too big to be sustained by the economy.

There was a call for an inclusive Senate where members are not only drawn from the royal clan but from all clans in Lesotho, including the minor ones.

Another highlight was that the constitution should clearly state that parliamentarians should be people with tertiary education qualifications.

On its part, SADC called on all stakeholders to take the process to its next stage which includes the production of a consolidated report on the submissions by different stakeholders ahead of the discussion of the report by the National Leaders Forum made up of the leaders of the governing and opposition parties.

In the communique released at the end of the three-day forum, SADC said the dialogue “confirms the resolute commitment by all stakeholders for constitutional reform and the determination to achieve peace and stability as well as reforms in all other agreed areas”.

“The dialogue further invited all stakeholders, non-government organisations and other entities to make submissions in writing to the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) on or before the 15th of January 2019 which submissions shall be consolidated into a report which shall also be presented to the National Leaders Forum.

“It is agreed that the NDPC will develop a document reflecting the identified issues that should be presented for discussion and consultation with the people of Lesotho in their district public participation programme.

“The dialogue notes the need for a structure which shall process the recommendations of the Second National Multi Stakeholder Dialogue (set for next year) for legislation and constitutional reforms. The composition of the structure shall be agreed by the National Leaders Forum and be presented to the next plenary,” the SADC communique states.

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