THERE was drama at the recent National Leaders Forum in Maseru when some rowdy opposition leaders disrupted proceedings to protest the alleged failure by the National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) to furnish them with raw copies of the reports from the in-district consultations on the multi-sector reforms process.
According to the government’s roadmap for the multi-sector reforms that were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016, the National Leaders’ Forum brings together leaders of the political parties “to forge a political consensus on the reforms and national reconciliation”.
The leaders met on Thursday to review reports from the in-district consultations that ended in May 2019. The consultations were conducted to ensure that Basotho of all backgrounds were afforded the opportunity to be part of the dialogue process leading to the implementation of the reforms.
But the leaders’ forum was delayed by rowdy opposition leaders who demanded to be furnished with raw copies of the NDPC’s reports of the in-district consultations before discussions could begin.
Justice Dikgang Moseneke, the head of the SADC facilitation was also on the receiving end of True Reconciliation Unity (TRU) official, David Seutloali’s furious outburst when the former South African deputy chief justice tried to calm down tempers. Justice Moseneke had to publicly rebuke Mr Seutloali and tell the latter not to yell at him as though they were in a rowdy parliamentary session.
“Do not heckle me. We are not in parliament. I have asked that you continuously remain respectful to everyone,” a livid Justice Moseneke told Mr Seutloali after the latter had said “these are Basotho reforms not the Moseneke reforms”.
“We demand that we be provided with the raw copies of the in-district consultations reports,” Mr Seutloali demanded. He was supported by fellow opposition politicians, Kimetso Mathaba (leader of the National Independence Party) and Pelele Letsoela, the deputy leader of Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP).
Before Justice Moseneke’s intervention, the opposition leaders had turned rowdy, saying the forum could only proceed once they had been furnished with raw copies of the NDPC’s reports on the in-district consultations.
They said it was important for them to access the raw copies so that they could ascertain for themselves what ordinary Basotho’s inputs into the reforms process were. They argued that the reports by experts may not necessarily reflect the views of ordinary people hence the need to see the original raw copies.
However, NDPC secretary, Sekonyela Mapetja, said it was not possible to provide the reports which numbered over 500, saying they were too bulky. He said the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) was engaged to produce consolidated report on the basis of all the consultations including consultations with Basotho in the diaspora.
“The raw reports are there but can only be given as softcopies upon on request,” Mr Mapetja said. But this did not pacify the opposition leaders who continued to demand the raw copies and accusing the government and the NDPC of “wanting to hide some information” and “bullying” them into ignoring their concerns.
Acting Prime Minister, Thesele ‘Maseribane, NDPC chairperson Chaka Ntsane and secretary, Sekonyela Mapetja, failed to contain the restive opposition leaders.
It was only after the intervention of Justice Moseneke that the situation returned to normal. But that was not before he too was attacked by Mr Seutloali who told him that there were Basotho reforms not the Moseneke reforms”.
“Do not shout at me. I never shout at people so please do not shout at me,” Justice Moseneke told Mr Seutloali.
Justice Moseneke then adjourned the programme until the NDPC had provided the reports that the leaders demanded. The media was barred from the proceedings that followed.
However, the Sunday Express understands that the programme got back on track following the adjournment.
Even European Union ambassador to Lesotho, Christian Manahl, was not happy with the disruptions to the forum on Thursday.
“There were some people who were trying to take over the reforms by making unfounded demands. I wish what happened here today can be put on record to show that some people are trying to stall the progress of the reforms by making petty demands. I hope the press has picked this and make it known to the nation,” Dr Manahl said in a brief interview with this publication.