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What’s on the reform’s menu


Dec. 6, 2018 5 min read

5 min read


What’s on the reform’s menu … as a mixture of ideas are tossed around in brain storm session  MASERU - Ideas have now been tabled and tossed around in a brain storm session with each interest group and individuals suggesting what could add value to the building blocks of the type of Lesotho they want. The flood of ideas came forward at the first Multi Stakeholders National Dialogue held at Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru between November 26 and 28, 2018.

“This was simply to pave a way for more participatory and inclusive dialogues to be undertaken at the districts level,” said chairperson of the national development planning committee, Chief Mikea Molapo referring to the first plenary of the national leaders dialogue. The ideas, which may increase or decrease in the consultative process will be open for debate until enough consultations with the general public have been completed in order to have conceptualized document of resolutions which could be adopted by leaders and parliament.


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While the next dialogue is expected  to take place in February 2019, some of the ideas on the able are briefly, and randomly as follows:

Economy

. The National Planning Board should be revived and used as a springboard for national development and political party manifestos.

. All government priorities must have their basis on planning board and be demonstrated when it comes to the tabling of national budget.

. There should be a broad based preferential procurement programme with at least 25% of all government procurement and tender contracts awarded to certified youth enterprises.

. The country must ensure beneficiation of its natural resources and products of national importance; and diamonds and other products must follow wool and mohair so that they can be exported in finished forms.

. Infrastructure development is the backbone of every economic activity and therefore should be number one priority of government.

. Government subsidy should not be haphazard; it must support irrigation system and priority should be fruits opposed to untargeted general agricultural subsidies. There must be urgent action to arrest land degradation and there must be a consideration on introducing grazing fees.

. Information technology must be embraced and adopted at all levels of the economy and government services.

 

Constitution

. The office tenure of the prime minister should be the maximum of two terms.

. The size of the cabinet and the parliament must be reviewed.

. The constitution must state terms and powers of prime minister, regulate cross over in parliament and vote of no confidence as well as formation of new government after elections.

 

Human development

. Government must invest on human development – people, such as increasing budget for tertiaries like the National University of Lesotho.

. The gender balance should not only be provided for in the policies but must be encouraged and must be visible; should include women, youth and persons with disabilities at every level of the society, e.g. employment, etc.

 

Security

. In order to ensure stability and peace, heads of security forces; i.e. army, national security and police, should only be appointed by prime minister on the basis of only names recommended by the parliament committee.

. There should be no confusion on police and army responsibilities and each must stick to their mandates which should be made clear in the constitution and regulate where they can cooperate and under what circumstances.

 

Judiciary

. The implementation is key. The existing laws and regulations must be implemented and the example is land that has to be used and occupied productively. The land that has been idle for three years must be repossessed and re-allocated for good use.

. A fight against corruption, transparency in service delivery, accountability and implementation must be an order of the day.

 

Legislature

. Parliament should consider its size and format; whether to make it 50/50 first past the post and proportional representation or 100% PR; and also to consider the number of members of parliament.

. Parliament should be constituted by at least 25% of members below 35 years old by 2030. A PR list must change to accommodate Youth, Male, Female, Disabled etc.)

. Members of Parliament should consider retiring in accordance with regulations that regulate public service retirement age.

. There must be a requirement of minimum literacy level for every member of parliament which should be at least COSC and it must be someone who had been engaged in community development before standing as member of parliament.

. Section 68 of the Criminal and Evidence Act should be scrapped as it is contrary tom the freedom of expression section of the constitution.

. Members of parliament must apply for bank loans like any other public servant and take responsibility of repaying them with their own personal assets as collaterals.

 

Public Service

. There is lack of implementation even when there are laws, regulations and policies such that the standard of service delivery, especially in the state owned enterprises is poor. Government must therefore ensure that the public service and parastatals are efficient and have proper governance.

. To promote stability and consistency in the public service, frequent and knee-jerk changes must be avoided, especially to top civil servants. Their appointments and removal must be transparent.

 

Media

. As the Americans have done with their 1st Amendment of their American constitution to consider the media as the Fourth Estate, Lesotho should follow suite and add its independent media as the fourth to its three estate of government which are; Parliamentary, Executive and Judiciary. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution of America reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

. The state media should be incorporated to set it free from direct political influence. It should be responsible to the transparently elected board. The following entities are found under the media owned by the state: radio stations, TV station, news agency, newspaper and a printing press.

. The government must formalize the media policy which was drafted in 1996 and make it a public document. The media policy expresses a common national understanding on the state of the media and the following are stressed in the policy as the tenets of the policy that Lesotho shall embrace: Freedom of the Press, Independence of Journalism, Media Diversity and Pluralism in Lesotho.

. There must be classification of media in terms of national status, public status, community status and commercial status, as well as media ownership criteria. The registrations and fees should be in accordance with the status of the media.

. The state advertising should have criteria; as it happens in most countries – South Africa being a good example - on placing government advertisements on print, digital and electronic media, e.g. minimum certified circulation? Outreach? Or type of news published or broadcast, or be tendered for, etc.

 

The facilitation committee responsible for the national reforms is set to go around the country to consult community based organisations and inhabitants directly who are expected to make more contributions and air their views. 

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