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Walking out will not help

IN this paper we carry the story of opposition MPs who walked out of parliament in protest against the tabling of the controversial Land Bill 2009.

Led by All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, the opposition lawmakers decided not to be part of the parliamentary proceedings on Friday.

The Bill was about to be tabled for the second time when Thabane led his dutiful troops out of the august house.

They argued that there were more crucial issues like the 2010/2011 national budget to discuss.

In any case, they argued, the Land Bill was so fraught with errors that it needed to be revisited and subjected to more public scrutiny.

We understand their anger and what their walkout symbolises.

The Bill has indeed divided the nation.

It is their right to walk out of parliament when they feel that the government wants to rail-road some unjust laws.

What we cannot fathom is how the “boycott” will help the opposition pressure the government to stop pushing for this Bill.

Does their absence from parliament help them achieve anything?

Will it stop anything?

Will it force the government to make the Land Bill an “acceptable Bill”? 

We think not. 

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) government clearly wants the Bill enacted and will use its majority in parliament to ensure that it becomes law.

The LCD will therefore pass this Bill with or without the opposition MPs in parliament.

The opposition does not have the numbers to successfully block this law.

It never had.

This is the sad reality that the opposition legislators face.

We believe it’s better for the opposition to push for change from within.

The government might really want to pass this Bill but that does not mean the LCD lawmakers have their ears stuffed.

They have not done anything so far to justify the assumption they will not listen to well-argued suggestions.

Lawmaking is not for the ruling party alone.

If it was then there would be no need to have parties with one or two seats in parliament.

Our opposition parties should go back to parliament and scream until the government takes their concerns on board.

For them to get public support for their cause they must show that they themselves stood up for it in parliament.

We are sick and tired of politicians who seek to get mileage from grandstanding.

Worse still, the opposition has not said precisely what section of the Bill gets their blood boiling.

They might have raised these issues in the media but we have not heard them articulating their concerns in parliament.

The whole Bill cannot be described as bad.

Surely there are other progressive propositions in this proposed law.

But our opposition MPs want to debate laws in the media.

They want to debate laws at political rallies.

The Bill is fraught with errors.

What errors?

There must be consultation of the public?

About what specifically?

These are the issues they should be dealing with in parliament.

These are the issues they should be screaming about.

Walking out on a debate will not help their cause.

Our opposition undermines its case by generalising such important issues.

Lest we forget, there were opposition members in the committee that said the controversial Public Meetings and Processions Bill was fine.

We have not heard them screaming about the unjust provisions requiring citizens of this country to apply for permission from the police or headman to have a meeting.

This selective amnesia does not help the opposition.

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