PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane and his cabinet are on Tuesday expected to adopt a roadmap for the implementation of multi-sectoral reforms amid concerns by some stakeholders that it is “fundamentally flawed”.
The Reforms Roadmap was drafted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), at the request of the government, and was submitted to Dr Thabane last week.
Lesotho has committed to constitutional, judiciary, security, public service, parliamentary and media sector reforms as part of Southern African Development Community (SADC) decisions meant to nip the Mountain Kingdom’s political and security challenges in the bud.
Addressing a two-day media dialogue in Maseru, the Prime Minister’s Office Cabinet Administrator Makhetha Motšoari said the anticipated adoption of the Reforms Roadmap was a crucial step towards implementation.
Organised by the MNN Centre for Investigate Journalism, the dialogue was meant to sensitise media practitioners about the upcoming reforms process and their role in informing the nation about the process.
Advocate Motšoari said they worked with UNDP officials in drafting the roadmap to ensure it was comprehensive.
“We engaged experts within the UNDP in drafting the roadmap,” he said.
“One cannot start such a serious reform process without a proper foundation. Coming up with this document took us time because it is the foundation for the reforms process which will be presented to all the stakeholders. It stipulates the government’s intentions on the reforms process.”
On allegations by some stakeholders that the government has been dragging its feet in the reforms process, Adv Motšoari said: “I admit there have been delays due to problems we encountered along the way, but the government is not playing delaying tactics.”
He indicated that the Reforms Roadmap would be presented to all stakeholders immediately after being approved by the government.
The approval, Adv Motšoari said, would be followed by the establishment of a “structure” tasked with implementing the reforms. Thereafter, a forum for traditional and other leaders would be convened along with a national dialogue.
“As we speak, the roadmap document is ready and has been presented to the cabinet, the only thing remaining is the next cabinet meeting to sit and approve the document officially,” he said, adding that it was imperative for every Mosotho to comprehend and take ownership of the reforms.
Adv Motšoari stressed that the government was only expected to be a “driving vehicle” of the reforms process.
However, at the same event, political analyst and National University of Lesotho lecturer, Mafa Sejanamane, described the Reforms Roadmap as “fundamentally flawed”.
Prof Sejanamane, who said he had already read the Reforms Roadmap, took particular issue with the government’s role as the driver of the process, saying its viewpoint would ultimately hold sway over other stakeholders.
“I am trying to raise this issue before that paper is approved by cabinet. It (roadmap) is fundamentally flawed and one fundamental thing is that the government cannot be the driver of the reforms,” he said.
“We have said it before that the Shakhane Mokhehle-led (constitutional referendum) process of 1992 cannot work because it is not the type of thing that we want. “It was evident throughout the process that the so-called consultation of people in the constituencies was just a charade.”
Prof Sejanamane stressed that the government could not be a player and referee of a process it is an interested party.
“As far as the reforms are concerned, the government is only one of the stakeholders. The upcoming national dialogue should then determine the autonomous structure that will drive the reforms; not the many separate structures that are envisaged in your roadmap.”
An autonomous structure, he said, would ensure that the government, along with the opposition parties, media and other stakeholders, made its input in the reforms.
Prof Sejanamane asserted that the roadmap seeks to establish state committees to drive the reforms; a move which he said was “lame”.
He said such a framework would mean that the process would reflect only the views of the government and not the views of Basotho.
“The key issue is getting the process right and making sure that this is not a government driven process but a Basotho-driven process where you can have a body which will not be appointed by the government but set-up as a result of a parliamentary law. Parliament should be able to make a law setting up that, just like was done in establishing the Interim Political Authority,” Prof Sejanamane added.
In his response, Adv Motšoari said all the stakeholders would be part of the structure set-up to prepare for the reforms.
“There has to be a structure incorporating all the stakeholders, and the government is only a facilitator to ensure that progress is made, not to mean that they are in charge,” he said.