OPPOSITION parties have called for the establishment of a government of national unity (GNU) of all parties which will be represented in parliament after next year’s general elections.
They also want the deadline for the implementation of multi-sector reforms to be extended by five years after the 2022 polls.
Alliance of Democrats’ (AD) deputy leader, Ntoi Rapapa, made the calls on behalf of the opposition at the national stakeholder consultations forum in Maseru this weekend. The Forum was hosted by the National Reforms Authority (NRA).
SADC has given Lesotho until October 2021 to have fully implemented constitutional and other key reforms.
However, in his address to the Forum, Professor Rapapa called for the extension of the deadline, saying the reforms could be best completed by a GNU after the 2022 elections.
“It is our firm belief that any meaningful reforms cannot be completed within the prescribed period of 18 months,” Prof Rapapa said.
“Nonetheless, we propose that any low hanging fruits on the reforms agenda be completed before the 2022 general elections. These include elections issues such as floor crossing and the review of the Mixed Member Proportion Representation for the National Assembly as well as the recruitment of principal secretaries based on merit and experience not political affiliation.
“In order to do justice to the reforms agenda and all its thematic areas, it is our considered opinion that the period be extended by five years after the 2022 elections with the provision that SADC continues to be briefed periodically beyond the term of the facilitator, His Lordship Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.”
Prof Rapapa said they had always believed in a GNU as the only governance structure to ensure stability, unity, healing and peace.
“It is our firm belief that, if the political parties with representation in the National Assembly, agree to form a GNU for a period of five years after the 2022 elections, we will achieve meaningful reforms, national stability, peace, unity, reconciliation and economic growth.
“Since 2012 to date, we all know that we have had four different coalitions and all of them were unable to fulfil the long-term goals. None of them lasted for five years. It does seem that the incoming government will not last for five years too.”
Prof Rapapa said perpetrators of human rights atrocities must face justice. He said there must be a clear definition of what constitutes political crimes and all the political crimes dating back to independence from Britain in 1966 must be dealt with.
“We support any mechanism for addressing national stability, peace, unity and reconciliation provided the period to be covered and the type of crimes involved are defined.
“We propose that the period starts from 4 October 1966 when political atrocities in this country started and were never addressed up to now. We all know that political instability led to many deaths in this country from 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2014 and thereafter.
“The perpetrators need to be brought to justice and the victims need to know what happened. Justice and reconciliation must be applied where it is practicable,” Prof Rapapa said.
His remarks come against the background of a serious fallout between the two main governing parties, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC) over the National Peace and Unity Bill.
Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu’s DC is in support of the Bill which proposes the establishment of a National Peace and Unity Commission with powers to grant high-profile criminal suspects amnesty provided they testify truthfully, disclose their alleged crimes in full and show remorse.
Mr Mokhothu says only “haters of peace” would oppose a Bill aimed at helping Basotho “heal and forgive each other for atrocities committed against each other since 1964”.
On the other hand, the ABC- the biggest party in the governing coalition- is having none of it. It says the Bill is only aimed at protecting politicians, serving and former members of the security agencies from accounting for their crimes against ordinary citizens.
Victims of recent atrocities including slain army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao’s widow, ‘Mamphanya Mahao, have opposed the Bill, saying it was crafted without their input.