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Interesting lessons from New Zealand report

By Makhabane Maluke

A MULTI-STAKEHOLDER Lesotho delegation went on a tour to the mature and more “complex” political system in New Zealand to learn how they have adopted the Mixed-member proportional representation there.

The subsequent report has many interesting lessons for students of politics. Procedurally, a Speech from the Throne (SFTT) has to mark the start of the fresh parliamentary session after prorogation.
Debates on the SFTT are another opportunity for a competent opposition to test confidence in the government. This will be an unplanned mid-term review mechanism to expose the real complexion of this coalition government.

His Majesty’s Speech will have to be well considered as no nation expects incoherent text for their Head of State.

This particular SFTT has to indicate achievements and reasons for either failure or slow progress in projects mentioned in the SFTT which ushered in this coalition.
Pronouncements on what is to be achieved in the remaining portion of the 8th Parliament have to be clear to convince the nation that government really delivers.

In New Zealand, government either wins or fails this aspect of the confidence test.

We are waiting to see how Lesotho will handle this one. Just to digress, there is currently much talk about need to “rescind” (Ho hlakola) the prorogation or not.

The words normally used are extend it, end it or shorten it to a date earlier than the one stated in the prorogation of parliament instrument.

“Rescind” implies turning back the hands of parliamentary time. This particular prorogation has done more damage than good.

Previously planned committee sittings which had to be cancelled may never be revised. Rescind amounts to saying that prorogation actually never existed.
It would apply only if the gazette was revoked before the commencement date.

The current prorogation did another damage by depriving the Speaker his inherent right of discretion in the running of parliament.

Adjournment sine die recognises his eminence and right of discretion to call members to assemble during routine vacations.

Under normal circumstances, prorogation has to be for a few days only or as circumstance may require where there is adequate planning and coordination by both parliament and its government.
It is doubtful if Basotho ever knew or had concern when Parliament was prorogued during previous governments.
Prorogation is designed to protect parliamentary democracy.

The powers that be are urged to give this New Zealand tour report the widest publicity possible because it raises interesting issues.
The nation has a right to be able to follow the goings on in Maseru following this much dramatised study tour and prorogation of parliament.

  • Mr Makhabane Maluke is the MP from Bobatsi.

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