PRIME MINISTER Thomas Thabane will on Thursday convene the National Leaders Forum (NLF) where leaders of political parties in government and in the opposition are expected to agree on the approach and methodology for the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.
Dr Thabane said this at a meeting at a Maseru hotel with leaders of political parties that are not represented in parliament. The meeting followed the one which Dr Thabane held with on Wednesday with his predecessor, Pakalitha Mosisili to discuss the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.
Dr Mosisili who is the leader of the opposition Democratic Congress (DC) met Dr Thabane as a representative of all opposition parties that are represented in parliament.
Among those who attended the Friday meeting were the leader of the Whitehorse Party Mohau Thakaso, Lehlohonolo Tšehlana (leader of the Sankatana Social Democracy- SSD) and the True Reconciliation Unity (TRU) spokesperson, David Seutloali.
Dr Thabane said this Thursday’s NLF meeting will also agree on the appointment of a multi-stakeholder national dialogue planning committee, the number of the committee members, the criteria for the candidates for the committee.
At the NLF, the party leaders will also sign a pledge to demonstrate their commitment to the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.
Dr Thabane also told the opposition that the government had proposed that the NLF be chaired by the representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure impartiality in the process.
“The government has proposed that the meeting be conducted by SADC because they are a neutral party and do not have interest in any local political party,” Dr Thabane said. “The Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL), the civil society, women and youth councils, the College of Chiefs and many others will be expected to participate in the meeting. All registered political parties will be the main interlocutors,” Dr Thabane added.
Dr Thabane expressed his hope that the Thursday meeting would revive the stalled reforms process, adding that the NLF should build trust and confidence among the political leaders.
He said that the national dialogue planning committee will be made up of at least 25 people including representatives of the government, political parties and civil society.
“This committee will only be functional until the end of the National Dialogue. Members will people with expertise in drafting and writing skills, planning skills, budgeting and financial skills,” Dr Thabane said.
He added that an all-inclusive multi-stakeholder national dialogue will be held in October.
“That is where all Basotho will agree on the issues that need to be included in the reforms. The national dialogue will take three forms: Plenary I, District Consultations, and Plenary II.
“The government is trying all means to include every person in this important national issue. That is the reason we are maintaining that we wish for the Lesotho Congress of Democracy leader (Mothetjoa Metsing) to be part of the reforms. We have asked SADC to mediate for his return since all our independent efforts have failed.
“We will do all that the law grants us to do to sure that his (Metsing’s) return home is safe and secure and that his family lives in warmth and peace.”
Dr Thabane’s comments come barely a week after the exiled Mr Metsing telephonically addressed a party rally where he told his supporters that he was confident of coming home soon.
Mr Metsing has been holed up in South Africa since fleeing Lesotho last August citing an alleged plot to assassinate him. The government has nevertheless refuted his claims, insisting that he fled to escape prosecution for corruption.
The opposition has set Mr Metsing’s return as one of the preconditions for its participation in the process to implement multi-sector reforms that are aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability in the country.
The LCD leader recently spoke of his longing to come back “as soon as possible” to participate in the reforms. He said this in an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times.
And while addressing the rally last Sunday, Mr Metsing restated his desire to return to Lesotho so that “all of us to look at how best we can turn a new leaf” in the country.
He said this in a telephonic address to LCD supporters who converged at Mahobong in the Leribe district.