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Take heed of these timely recommendations

ELSEWHERE in this edition we carry a story about a Commonwealth-funded study which makes crucial recommendations on how to sustain the coalition government.
The Tom Thabane-led government must be commended for having the wisdom to request such assistance from the Commonwealth.
It shows that the government accepts that it has weaknesses and limitations.
Having entered into the unknown waters of coalition governments Lesotho needs all the help it can get from those with experience in the area.
New Zealand’s Labour MP Dr Rajen Prasad who conducted the study seems to have captured precisely what the coalition government needs to do if it is to last its full term.
Perhaps the most important recommendation Prasad makes in the report is that the government should consider amending the Constitution to limit the ability of MPs to cross the floor in parliament.
That, to some, might come as a suggestion that the coalition government must tinker with the Constitution to preserve itself.
This is so because the coalition has a precariously thin majority in parliament.
We think otherwise, for that amendment is not going to benefit this coalition government alone but many that might come after it.
It will benefit the country as well by ensuring that governments are not at the mercy of MPs.
We have seen in the past how MPs switch political parties for flimsy and personal reasons.
In most cases such MPs claim, without evidence though, that they have consulted their constituencies before switching allegiance.
There is no mechanism to verify the claims that they have consulted with their electors.
Their supporters too do not have the means to challenge those claims and if they are unhappy with the decision they have to wait for the next election.
Prasad’s suggestion that the Constitution should be amended to compel a floor-crossing MP to seek a new mandate through an election solves this problem.
If the MP does have the support of the people then they will vote them back into parliament.
The ability of MPs to cross the floor is precisely what feeds the perception that the coalition government will not last its full term.
Indeed, there is discord in the coalition government but we don’t believe that it should fall because an unhappy MP has decided to cross the floor.
Prasad also says the government must depoliticise the civil service.
We can’t agree more with this recommendation.
The civil service has always been highly politicised in Lesotho.
This government’s endeavour to please its supporters has not helped matters. The parties have agreed to proportionally distribute the government positions amongst themselves.
The danger with that, as Prasad points out, is that a politicised civil service blunts the government’s effectiveness.
When people are appointed because of their party affiliations they don’t see an obligation to account to anyone apart from their party.
If the collation government wants to be effective it has to appoint civil servants on merit.
Only qualified and apolitical civil servants are going to help the government achieve its goals.
Prasad makes several other recommendations that the government needs to seriously consider.
Our worry though is that this report, like many other reports on other important matters, will be read and forgotten. That will be dangerous for both the coalition and the country.

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