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No flaws in government system

by Lesotho Times
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I WRITE in response to an article by Tsikoane Peshoane and published in the October 29-November 4 2009 edition of the Lesotho Times.
I am deeply disturbed by the  headline which said Lesotho’s government system was flawed.
Before I “sjambok” Peshoane for his serious ignorance and therefore question the credibility of his former lecturers at the National University of Lesotho which I and himself are its chemical bi-products (though my lecturers from both Economics and PA/PS departments seem to have given me much more superior dogmas than his “flawed” ones), I am glad and appreciate his love for journalism.
However, in the academic world, it is recklessness for one to make public statements which misdirect and misinform the readers due to un-researched claims.
Where does Peshoane find “flaws” in the government which in the 1993 Lesotho constitution institutionalised the monarchy?
Under this constitution, the king is the head of state, whereas the prime minister is the head of government.
The king’s position is hereditary and accession to the throne is regulated by the office of the king, Order No. 14 of 1990.
The prime minister is appointed by the king in terms of Section 87 subsection 2 of the constitution.
The legislature is composed of two houses: the National Assembly and the Senate.
The Senate is composed of 33 members, 22 of which are hereditary principal chiefs, with the other 11 being appointed by the king on the advice of the Council of State.
The Council of State is composed of the right hounorable the prime minister, the speaker of parliament, two judges of the High Court, the attorney general, the commander of Lesotho Defence Force, the commissioner of police, a principal chief, two members of the National Assembly, a member of the legal profession in private practice, and three other people appointed by virtue of their expertise, skill and experience.
I am making this reference for Peshoane to find as many “flaws” as possible in the structure of governance in Lesotho so that he could justify his claims.
If the above makes sense to him (“in this system the prime minister is not directly chosen by the electorate but by fellow members of parliament”, a quote from his column), allow me to say this statement is very misinformed.
Within the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), we as the electorate, through our party structures, vote for our party leader every three years who, should we win with a majority in any national elections (as will be my hope until I retire), directly becomes our leader in parliament.
We also annually have leadership conferences like the one over the past weekend where we as the electorate engage with our leadership. What a democratic party!
In terms of Section 87 subsection 2 of the constitution, it is the king who appoints the prime minister, and the norm in Lesotho has been that the king has never opted to choose anybody other than our political party leader for the prime ministerial post.
Probably he will do that one day when the LCD is no longer a government as most of the other political party leaders really do not qualify to be the country’s prime minister.
And by the way are parliamentarians not also the electorate before they know their fate?
Peshoane’s other malicious connotation is that “on the one hand, cabinet ministers usually blame parliament for their own underperformance”.
Let me ponder clearly on this.
In philosophical addendums, contradictions nullify any good intent.
In one paragraph he said: “Lesotho is one of the countries with a parliamentary system of government wherein the cabinet — executive — is made up of ministers drawn from the legislature.”
In the political dogmas, this means cabinet ministers are also parliamentarians.
Now, which LCD parliamentarian who is a minister has ever blamed other parliamentarians for his or her own underperformance?
Is it not just an appeasing statement to soothe the opposition’s mind-set of which I am not sure if the dear columnist owes them anything?
We have 18 ministers and six assistant ministers (currently five).
My econometrics has taught me that on percentage intervals, if the whole cabinet syndicates happen to travel away all at once, the legislature will be left with 96 heads, which is 80 percent.
Shall we be made to believe that if it be the case of 20 percent absenteeism (which has never happened in our sane LCD) that could satisfy the assertion that “on the other hand, lawmakers point at the absenteeism of ministers during parliamentary sessions as an impediment that undermines the whole process of legislation”?
Then it means it is useless to have the rest of 60 of LCD and 40 of opposition mantra in our parliament.
Can the absenteeism of 20 percent of the MPs thwart parliamentary business in any one day in the presence of the 80 percent? Then we will be a banana country.
Let me remind Peshoane that in Lesotho, the judiciary is headed by the chief justice and consists of the court of appeal, the high court, magistrates’ courts and local courts.
There is a labour appeal court which is at the same level as the high court and which is presided over by a judge of the high court.
The judicial commissioner’s court is a customary appeal  court of the local and centralcourts. Lesotho has a dual legal system in which the abovenamed courts use common law and Roman Dutch law. The structure of the judiciary may have nothing to worry in a presidential or a monarchial set up of governance. They just do their businesses as usual. In a presidential set up, who said members of the legislature may not be appointed as ministers?
Now in Lesotho if we go for the presidential scheme, what should we do to the king, and the senators? Or should they form their own political party as well? It is also sheer ignorance to purport that “Lesotho has ratified many treaties and agreements without consultation of parliament.” Has Peshoane thought seriously about tools such as the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) which is an African self-monitoring mechanism voluntarily acceded to by member states of the African Union (AU) before vilifying the government this way?
One would recall that “the primary purpose of the APRM is to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, good governance, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated regional and continental economic integration through sharing of experiences and reinforcement of successful and best practices, including identifying the deficiencies and assessing the needs for capacity building”. Who is “Lesotho” who ratifies many treaties and agreements? Is it not members of parliament who are also six members of cabinet whose focal point is the minister of foreign affairs? Come on gentlemen; don’t just write anything to blackmail the government because you hate it so bitterly!
Remember journalism is an art! Peshoane would like to discover that APRM in Lesotho’s Country Review Mission found that: “Lesotho is a signatory to various treaties and protocols relating to the recognition and protection of civil, political and cultural rights; human rights (women, children, racial discrimination, status of refugees, labour, education, etc); freedom of political association; war and conflict; crime; corruption; and human trafficking. However, the country lags behind in the ratification, domestication, implementation and reporting on the various agreements.”
Lesotho has undertaken important steps in resolving internal political conflicts through consultations and dialogue. Examples include the 2002 introduction of the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system which is currently under panel-beating and scrutiny by the Independent Electoral Commission. Local government’s dispensation in 2005 with a total of 128 community councils and one municipal council were elected as well to note some of the landmarks in Lesotho. We as the LCD are not ashamed to insinuate that local councils suffer from capacity constraints and debilitating tensions between the newly established councils and traditional authorities.
Despite the initiation of various policies by our government, public service efficiency, effectiveness and accountability is still poor. Public accountability is poor and is accompanied by cronyism and corruption. Corruption is perceived to affect all sectors, public, private and political spheres. The major observation has been that many civil servants intentionally cripple government policies at implementation phase as they are technocrats and shift the blame to “Mosisili enoa oa lona le makh’onkorese ano a hae! (Mosisili and his congress movemement people”
Facts are stubborn and some of us who just like our leader Pakalitha, truly believes in the great Ntsu Mokhehle’s dogmas. We know surely that it will take the opposition fraternity many more years before they can dismantle the LCD and it is my hope to see that in the next life when I grace planet Mars. •Makhakhe Tukula is an LCD member from the Peka # 17 constituency. He is also a Political Economist and a Private Secretary to The Hon Popane Lebesa. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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