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EU hails reforms progress

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

SATISFACTORY progress has been made towards the implementation of the multi-sector reforms with the recent passing of the National Reforms Authority Bill, the European Union (EU) ambassador, Christian Manahl, has said.

Dr Manahl said the EU was happy with the passage of the bill and the EU will continue its financial and technical support for the reforms process.

Dr Manahl said this at a recent press briefing in Maseru.

His comments come against the background of the recent passage of the bill in the National Assembly to establish aimed at establishing the National Reforms Authority as an independent body to oversee the implementation of the constitutional, security sector, media, judicial and governance reforms that were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016.

Lesotho has already missed the May 2019 deadline that it was given for the full implementation of constitutional and security sector reforms.

Initially the reforms process was stalled by the bickering between the government and the opposition who listed a host of demands including the creation of a government of national unity (GNU), a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) as well as the release of prisoners such as the murder-accused former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as pre-conditions for their participation in the reforms process.

Lately the infighting in the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) has been stumbling block as it has affected all government business including the implementation of the reforms.

Last month ABC legislators loyal to the party’s deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao filed a no confidence motion in parliament against Dr Thabane and his government, which according to well-placed sources, sent shockwaves across the entire Southern African region.

So worried is the regional bloc that retired South African judge Justice Dikgang Moseneke who heads the SADC facilitation team on behalf of Mr Ramaphosa, visited Lesotho in May for a crisis meeting with the political parties to ascertain if the no confidence vote will scuttle the much-delayed processes towards the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.

Justice Moseneke also visited Lesotho again last month and reportedly pressured the Mahao faction of the ABC and the opposition to join with the government in passing the reforms bill in the National Assembly.

Dr Manahl has previously expressed concerns about political instability in Lesotho, saying it had affected the implementation of the reforms and left the EU unsure about what to do with the £12, 5 million it had set aside as funding for the reforms process.

“The decision has not been made (about what to with the funds) because the £12.5 million was meant specifically to support the implementation of the reforms but the national dialogue (on the reforms) has not been concluded. We are still awaiting the second plenary session (of the political leaders) and we cannot the decisions that will be made. Based on discussions with government, we have chosen to fund two key sectors of the reforms, namely, the judiciary and oversight institutions which are the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Attorney General’s office.

“But we are in some doubt on what to do (due to impact of the instability). We have to go through complex procedures at the (EU) headquarters level because it is the EU member states which provide the money for the development fund.

But if all goes well, we want to available the money immediately after the second plenary so that we can kick start the implementation of the reforms. We wouldn’t like to see a gap between the decisions and the implementation that should follow,” Dr Manahl said in June this year.

He recommended that the reform process should go on irrespective of the current instability and any future government should implement the decisions that would be agreed on at the national dialogue.

And on Friday, Dr Manahl hailed the passing of the reforms bill, saying it was a sign that the implementation of the reforms was on course.

He said that the EU was ready to support the second multi-stakeholder dialogue planned for next month.

“We are happy with the progress that has been made so far in the reforms. The National Reforms Authority Bill has been passed and this shows progress. The EU has supported the processes financially and with expertise and that shall continue into the second and hopefully the last plenary leading to the implementation which will be carried out by the National Reforms Authority,” Dr Manahl said.

Dr Manahl said the reforms process had been all encompassing with all Basotho having participated in the consultations and discussions. He added that political leaders had also shown the will to ensure the success of the reforms.

“About 400 meetings have been held and everybody who wanted to give their opinion has done so. Basotho have enthusiastically participated in the dialogues and consultations. And in the many discussions I have had with various political leaders and actors, I have not met a single person who says that Lesotho does not need the reforms. I believe there is a genuine unanimous will to go ahead with the reforms process and a lot has been done.

“But concerning the dialogue we are in the homestretch and we are nearing the finishing line. Most of the work has been achieved. What remains to be done is to analyse all the input and narrow it down into the set of recommendations which will have to be looked at by the National Leaders Forum and subsequently be endorsed by the multi stakeholder dialogue,” Dr Manahl said.


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