Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

C’wealth expert arrives with New Zealand report


Dr Rajen Prasad meets stakeholders over report meant to save coalition government

Billy Ntaote

The Commonwealth’s Expert Adviser to Lesotho, Rajen Prasad, arrived in Maseru on Thursday with the much-anticipated report, which is expected to help save the coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, and also provide guidelines for Lesotho’s future multiparty governments.

Dr Prasad’s visit follows a recent study tour of New Zealand by a local delegation of politicians, senior government officials and civil society representatives, in the wake of a bitter fallout between Lesotho’s three governing parties, sparked by Dr Thabane’s alleged failure to adhere to the agreement on which their coalition was founded two years ago.
The 28 June to 5 July tour was facilitated by the New Zealand parliament, in association with the Commonwealth Secretariat, and sought to enhance the delegates’ understanding of the country’s Mixed Member Proportion (MMP) parliamentary system, which Lesotho adopted in 2002.

The MMP — which allocates compensatory parliamentary seats based on votes won by each party after an election — was the direct result of Lesotho’s first coalition government comprising the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP), which assumed power after the 26 May 2012 general election had failed to produce an outright majority winner.
However, after the LCD threatened to pull out of the government and form yet another coalition administration with the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) due to Dr Thabane’s alleged failure to consult his fellow principals when making key governance decisions, stakeholders had suggested sending delegates to New Zealand to get first-hand knowledge of how the MMP model operates.
According to LCD leader, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, who led the delegation to New Zealand, much had been learnt during the tour.

Mr Metsing told reporters on the delegation’s return home: “The mission, which went to New Zealand, discovered that a coalition government is built on the basis of faith, trust and honesty than on monitoring structures.
“The major issues discussed in New Zealand were the need to have clear laws that regulate the transfer of power from one government to another, and how such a new administration should be formed and take oath of office.
“There should be an agreement on what legal time-frame the political parties must be given to form a government after an election as opposed to the existing period in Lesotho (of 14 days) that has been realised is not enough for
parties to form a stable government.”
Mr Metsing also said the delegates learnt how politicians should interact and relate to the public service “in a democratic dispensation without
politicising it”.
The different functions and responsibilities of the disciplined forces were also part of the study tour, Mr Metsing said.
“We were also given lessons on the best practices of drawing a coalition government agreement and the value of such a document on governance issues.
“We also learnt how to implement decisions by cabinet and how ministers should report on what their respective departments are doing.
“Again, the delegation learned about the value of a coalition government in New Zealand and how the country has been running its coalitions.”
Mr Metsing further said another issue raised was Lesotho should have strong laws regarding the filing of a parliamentary motion-of-no-confidence against the prime minister and his government.
He added: “We also talked about having laws that would regulate floor-crossing in parliament from one party to another.
“The need for constitutional amendments and reforms necessitated by the adoption of the MMP and also strengthening the Independent Electoral Commission not only during the election period but even after elections, were also discussed during the tour.

“Also, we touched on the need to have legislation that regulates the formation of alliances of political parties in parliament and their dissolution. The New Zealanders also said we need to have a Parliamentary Service Commission as one of the pillars of democratic rule.”

After the New Zealand visit, the Commonwealth, led by Dr Prasad, who is also a New Zealand Member of Parliament (MP), was supposed to compile a report that would enhance the original Coalition Agreement (CA) the BNP, LCD and ABC signed when forming government, thereby ushering a new era of cooperation between the partners.

BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane, who is coordinating the mediation between the three feuding parties, had previously said the amended agreement would be signed by 10 July.
This deadline was, however, missed due to the absence of the New Zealand report, with Metsing telling reporters on 10 July that the signing of the new agreement was being postponed by two weeks.
“The postponement will allow the findings of the New Zealand study tour to be discussed and incorporated into any amended deal,” Mr Metsing said.
However, Dr Prasad’s arrival on Thursday ends the country’s anxious wait for the report, and according to sources who spoke to the Sunday Express, the New Zealander first held a meeting with Dr Thabane, before meeting Mr Metsing and BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo on Friday to discuss the contents of the document.
Dr Prasad had to meet Mr Molapo as Chief ‘Maseribane is in Scotland with Lesotho’s Commonwealth Games team.

The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson, Thabo Thakalekoala, yesterday confirmed the arrival of Dr Prasad in the country, adding: “Dr Prasad delivered the New Zealand study tour report to the prime minister, and also his coalition government partners, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo.
“He first met them individually and then together as a group.”

Mr Thakalekoala further said the Prime Minister was yet to brief His Majesty, King Letsie III, as Head of State, about the report hence its contents could not yet be made public.
“We have to respect the King as the Head of State and allow Ntate Thabane to brief him first, and that would probably be on Monday.
“Then the Prime Minister would point the way forward after divulging the contents of the report to the public after briefing His Majesty,” Mr Thakalekoala said.
He also said Dr Prasad met the delegation which went on the New Zealand study tour, to discuss the report.

The ABC Secretary General Mr Samonyane Ntsekele, who is also the prime minister’s political advisor, would not comment on the report, saying : “It is still at the level of the coalition government leaders.”
However, the LCD spokesperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, said his party was yet to meet over the report and Dr Prasad’s visit.
“We will be waiting for the full report so that we can see what is worth considering for inclusion in our suggestions on the agreement we are working on, that is supposed to take the government
forward until the elections in 2017.
“I should also mention that on Monday (tomorrow), our three parties’ National Executive Committees (NECs) will meet to work on what submissions from the report should be part of the revised agreement,” said Mr Mochoboroane, who is also the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology.
“After the Commonwealth has finalised its consultation with all stakeholders, government will then say what direction should be taken regarding issues to adopt from the report.
“As government charts the way forward, we also have to have parliament considering what direction should be taken on issues affecting its business.”
On his part, the BNP spokesperson, Machesetsa Mofomobe, said his party was yet to consider the report.

“We are having meetings, which are dealing with our submissions into the agreement intended to resolve the crisis we are faced with as the three parties in government.
“However, our concern as the BNP is that we should work on ensuring the stability of our coalition government and future coalition governments as ours is the pilot of coalition governments in Lesotho,” Mr Mofomobe said.
“There is need for the laws of Lesotho to be clear on how coalition governments should operate from now onwards.”

Comments are closed.