SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa says Lesotho will no longer be a pariah state that is frequently the subject of discussion at Southern African Development (SADC) summit after the government and opposition parties agreed to set up an independent National Reforms Authority to oversee the implementation of the multi-sector reforms.
The government and opposition on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the Lesotho Reforms Process. Water Affairs Minister Samonyane Ntsekele signed on behalf of the government while main opposition Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, signed on behalf of the opposition bloc in parliament.
The parties agreed to “protect and safeguard the progress and milestones that have been already achieved in the reforms process and further committed to removing all the obstacles and impediment which might unduly delay, undermine or derail the reforms process”.
“The parties to this agreement undertake that parliament shall be convened not later than 5 August 2019 for the purpose of enacting the law that establishes the National Reforms Authority. There shall be a mechanism or structure that will be established and enacted as a successor of the National Dialogue Planning Committee which will have its primary objective as the implementation of the resolutions and decisions of the second plenary,” part of the agreement states.
Mr Ramaphosa, who jetted into Lesotho on Thursday morning, emerged from a closed door meeting with Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to tell the media that a breakthrough had been achieved by the governing and opposition parties on the crafting of legislation to establish an independent National Reforms Authority which will kick start the much-delayed implementation of the multi-sector reforms.
“Today is a milestone because all of them (governing and opposition parties) unanimously agreed that there should be legislation that is going to lead to the creation of an entity, the National Reforms Authority that will get on with the task of dealing with the reforms in a firm way and independently dealing with the principles and processes of these reforms.,” said Mr Ramaphosa who was flanked by Dr Thabane, Justice Moseneke and several Lesotho government officials at the Prime Minister’s offices in Maseru.
“Lesotho has always been in need of the reforms. Everybody (governing and opposition parties) has agreed to the need for security sector reforms public service reforms media reforms, governance and constitutional reforms.
“And today is a really outstanding day in that all parties have agreed and embraced the notion of going ahead with these reforms. This solves the problem that SADC was dealing with all these years. When we go the next SADC summit with the (Lesotho) Prime Minister (Thomas Thabane), we will be able to report that through the efforts of Justice Dikgang Moseneke, we have been able to help Basotho finally come to their own home-made solutions, solutions that they have crafted themselves to address the challenges of instability that prevailed in this country.
“I believe that Lesotho is now opening a new chapter, a chapter where the country will embrace good governance and rule of law. And SADC will be delighted to get this report because Lesotho will now no longer be the subject of discussion at the SADC level. It be a country that joins all other countries and proudly present its country report that is not infested with instability.
“So today Basotho can celebrate the convergence and consensus that has led to this very historic agreement where we consolidate and build a strong foundation for the reforms to now move ahead,” President Ramaphosa said.
On his part, Prime Minister Thabane was thankful that the Thursday meetings had solved Lesotho’s problems. He however did not elaborate which particular problems he was referring to.
“The situation today has gone way beyond our wildest expectations to sort out problems that beginning to look intractable. Those problems have been solved through the diplomacy and the ability of the honourable president of South Africa and have become yesterday’s tale,” Dr Thabane said without elaborating.
Lesotho has already missed SADC’s May 2019 deadline to have fully implemented the reforms.
Initially the reforms process was stalled by the bickering between the government and the opposition. The latter had 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, like murder-accused former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, as pre-conditions for participation, before dropping all these.
Lately the infighting in Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party has been the main stumbling block as it has affected all government business.
Last month ABC legislators loyal to the party’s deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao filed a no confidence motion in parliament against Dr Thabane, a development that appears to have rattled SADC.