Maseribane warns Thabane on reforms.

BONGIWE ZIHLANGU

MASERU – Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Chief Thesele ’Maseribane, has issued a stern warning to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government to ensure speedy implementation of the pending multi-sectoral reforms programme failing which would result in the loss of support from regional and international organisations, while also risking Basotho’s loss of confidence in government.

In the statement issued this week Maseribane appealed to his four-party coalition government partners including ABC leader Thabane, Alliance of Democrats’ Monyane Moleleki and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) leader Keketso Rantšo to accord the reforms the seriousness they deserve. He unequivocally states that should government fail to implement the reforms “it will singularly be held responsible for its failure and accordingly alone bear the consequences”.

“Needless to say the failure of these reforms or even delaying them for any reason will lead to loss of good will and support of these organisations with catastrophic consequences that include in the main loss of financial assistance, protection in the event of a resurgence of the conflict and possible attempts and overthrowing the government,” Maseribane states.

“Hence, as the BNP our position is that government should accept that the responsibility for instituting or carrying out the reforms lies squarely and exclusively with it and that it will singularly be held responsible for its failure and accordingly alone bear the consequences.”Lesotho is expected to launch a multi-sectoral reform programme of parliament, the constitution, the judiciary as well as the public service and security sectors, following assessment that Lesotho’s key institutions were polarised and that they needed to be depoliticised to function effectively and deliver services as expected.

According to Maseribane, so intent is SADC, and regional and international bodies to see Lesotho implement the reforms that a clear and specific programme and roadmap with timelines, an exclusive agenda and deadlines for implementation has been issued “as indication of the importance of this programme for our country”. “The reforms recommended by SADC for institution by the government of Lesotho are specific, focused, concise and clear. Also clear are the procedures that are to be followed, namely designed their framework and setting, developing the roadmap with timelines, holding a stakeholder dialogue conference of which deliberations should enable inputs by groups outside the government, further inform the way forward and the nature and direction of the process,” Maseribane submits.

“This, as SADC emphasized, must proceed in tandem with efforts to re-establish the rule of law and bring to justice all members of the security forces responsible for various atrocious crimes since the beginning of this decade. The responsibility for ensuring that these reforms are instituted lies squarely and exclusively with the government of Lesotho, not any other forces, however deserving participants or stakeholders in the reforms process.”

The BNP leader further asserts that it is critical for Thabane’s government to swiftly implement the reforms, as SADC had paved the way by helping create a conducive environment for the implementation of the reform programme to avoid cluttering its agenda “leaving the rest to the government of Lesotho”. “SADC has been unequivocal regarding this responsibility which is repeated in all the communiqués of its Double Troika Summits, beginning with the first that followed the political/security crisis that was occasioned by the 30th August 2014 attempted coup,” Maseribane maintains.

“Clearly, the reason for SADC’s unequivocal messages was to avoid ambiguity in the agenda it set for Lesotho, to the extent that this might lead to the importation into the reforms agenda of matters which, though interesting for some and for consideration in the future, could open up new conflict sides thereby delaying and/or even scuttling the agenda itself, thus perpetuating the insecurity and instability problem that SADC had sought through these recommendations to assist the Kingdom of Lesotho to solve.

“That SADC formulated this reforms agenda for Lesotho underscores both the urgency with which it has to be dealt with and its non-negotiability as such, save that the process has to be inclusive – all the relevant stake holders must be afforded the opportunity to fully participate.” Maseribane further emphasizes the importance of respecting SADC as the regional body had pledged itself as the main resource in Lesotho’s reform journey, further deploying a standby force to the country and advising and guiding government “as it carries out the reforms”.

“Similarly, other international organisations have offered to assist the implementation of SADC recommendations and process of reforms in the Kingdom,” Maseribane notes. “The deadline set by SADC for Lesotho to carry out the reforms is dangerously drawing close, thus raising the spectre of the withdrawal of the goodwill and support by SADC and other organisations and friends.”

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