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Basotho want First Lady’s office abolished  

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

BASOTHO want the office of the First Lady either abolished, because it is too expensive to maintain, or alternatively conferred on the King’s wife.

If for any reason the office should be maintained then the King’s wife, Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso, should be recognised as the official First Lady because this particular title, the world over, is conferred on the wife of the head of state.

King Letsie III is Lesotho’s head of state, albeit ceremonially, and his wife should carry the title, according to the majority view of Basotho as expressed during the recently ended outreach programme to canvass their input into the current multi-sectoral reforms process.

According to an expert report on the constitutional reforms prepared by Professor Hoolo ‘Nyane and Masebelu Makhobalo, one of the general concerns of Basotho raised during the public outreach process was that “the office of the First Lady was too expensive and must therefore be abolished”.

The First Lady’s office also duplicated work done by other government ministries, particularly the Ministry of Social Development.

Should the office be maintained, then it should be held by Her Majesty the Queen and not the wife of the Prime Minister.  In Lesotho’s Westminister style of government, the Prime Minister is the head of government and not head of state.  His wife should thus never be called First Lady.

“A general concern has been raised from public consultations about the Office of the First Lady,” the report reads.

“The concern is that the office is expensive and must therefore be abolished; that the office belongs to the Queen not the spouse of the prime minister; that it duplicates the work of government departments like the Ministry of Social Development.

“The general view from the public is that either the office should be abolished or be granted to the wife of the Head of State, the King…” the report reads.

The paper also calls of the softening of the prime minister’s power. The general view in the consultations was that the prime minister has too much power under the present constitutional design.

Basotho also raised concern over the appointment of ministers saying it seemed as if appointments were not being made on merit.

Basotho recommended that ministers’ appointment be done on merit and that the process becomes competitive.



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