TRANSFORMATION Resource Center (TRC) executive director, Tsikoane Peshoane, has lashed out at the government for snubbing a meeting called by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to discuss the stalled national reforms process and upcoming local government elections.
Labelling government leaders as “arrogant”, Mr Peshoane reminded them it was exactly the kind of behavior they were now exhibiting that had fallen other coalition governments in the recent past.
Mr Peshoane spoke yesterday at the ongoing NGOs week at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Center organized by the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN).
The LCN had invited the government and other political leaders to discuss the stalled reforms process and assess whether the country was ready for the upcoming local government elections.
Invited to the occasion were the likes of Deputy Prime Minister Nthomeng Majara, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Mathibeli Mokhothu, Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Machesetsa Mofomobe, Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader Nqosa Mahao and some members of the Senate, among others.
All the aforementioned people did not show up, except Chief Khoabane Theko of Thaba Bosiu and Seabata Motsamai, who are both Senators.
This did not sit well with Mr Peshoane and other NGO leaders who seized the opportunity to remind government leaders that their arrogance would cost them dearly. It was similar arrogance that had failed all the past coalitions that never got to finish their full terms.
“I am aware there are some leaders who accepted our invitation and (excused themselves)…. We thank them for that. But there are also those who didn’t come without any explanation.
“The deputy prime minister (Majara) was invited here and she didn’t come. The government didn’t even feel the need to send over the minister of local government (Lebona Lephema) yet we are here to discuss the local government elections. This is the same behavior that will lead to your downfall just like the past regimes,” Mr Peshoane told the absent government officials.
Mr Peshoane also accused political leaders of being good at fighting each other and sabotaging national processes. He said that explained why the reforms process was stalled and could not be completed by the last 10th parliament of Lesotho.
“The only thing that you (political leaders) are best at is picking fights with NGOs and working on sabotaging each other… That is the same reason why we are in this situation we are in now. The country is going for the local government elections very soon… Are we going to elections in this (deplorable) state that we are in?” Mr Peshoane asked rhetorically.
The reforms process appears stalled as the government and opposition squabble over process. The opposition has demanded that the government reinstates the Constitutional Amendment Bill – also known as the Omnibus Bill – which anchors the reforms – without any changes – from the stage it was when the last 10th Parliament was dissolved. The government on the other insists on splitting the Bill into sections based on the different thresholds of majorities required to pass them. The government also believes it has a clear mandate to revisit and reshape the reforms process in light of the crushing majority won by the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) at the 7 October 2022 general elections.
Meanwhile, Independent Elections Commission (IEC) Director of Legal Services, Lehlohonolo Suping, said the electoral body was ready for the local government elections. It was just waiting for Prime Minister Sam Matekane to promulgate the date, he said.
According to Mr Suping the elections are supposed to be held no later than 30 September 2023, the last day for the current councillors to remain in office.
He said they would still use the 2017 council demarcations for the September elections. This because the local government ministry had decided not to change the council divisions for now.
“We are ready for the local government elections. As the IEC we are guided by the local government Act…We will still use the same councils as they were in 2017 because the ministry of local government decided that they are not changing the councils… So, for now we are just waiting for the prime minister to announce the elections date.”