On Wednesday 28th August 2019, Lesotho’s Upper House, the Senate, passed the Lesotho National Reforms Bill paving way for Royal Assent to legitimize it as law. This move constitutes a critical safeguard measure for Lesotho National Dialogue and Reforms Process. The Act provides for the establishment of the National Reforms Authority to manage, coordinate, and lead the reforms process. This is part of the implementation arrangements for the resolutions and decisions that shall be reached during the Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue Plenary II. Similarly, the National Reforms Authority shall spearhead measures aimed at promoting stakeholder consensus and national stability, unity and reconciliation in Lesotho.
The bold step of passing the Bill earned Lesotho accolades during the recently concluded 39th SADC Summit held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 17 August 2019. The Heads of States and Governments, in their Communique, “…welcomed the enactment of the legislation and called upon all stakeholders in Lesotho to remain committed to the reforms process”. The Act is a key mitigation measure that insulates the implementation process from interference and possible disruptions. It is an outcome of intense negotiation, international mediation and unity of purpose among all stakeholders on the need for reforms.
In his address to the Summit, The Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr Thomas Thabane reiterated his Government’s commitment to the reforms process. He underscored the steady progress made, notably; the approval and implementation of the Lesotho National Dialogue and Stabilisation Project (LNDSP), supported by the United Nations Peace Building Fund. He also highlighted other milestones such as completion of In-District and Diaspora Consultations and three National Leaders Forums. On the proposed National Reforms Authority, he emphasised that the law guarantees the authority to carry on the reforms process in a transparent and independent manner without any interference by the Government or any stakeholder.
Prior to the passing of this Bill, the National Leaders Forum III, on 5th August 2019 agreed on the structure, form and content of the National Reforms Authority. At the function, the Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki acknowledged the hard work undertaken by the National Dialogue Planning Committee with the assistance of the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organization in soliciting views from Basotho. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Ms Betty Wabunoha re-emphasised UNDP and the UN’s commitment to stand in solidarity with Basotho on this journey of reforms and national cohesion. “We shall continue to reach out to bilateral donors and international community to collectively support Lesotho’s efforts,” Wabunoha said. She added that Basotho leaders are entrusted to drive Lesotho to prosperity, hence, despite of their diverse backgrounds, each should think beyond their constituency’s interest to that of all Basotho.
Other valuable voices of support for a strong implementation arrangement for the reforms came from the SADC Facilitator for Lesotho, His Excellency President Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa who encouraged stakeholders to remain focussed and committed to the Reforms Process. His Facilitation Team Leader and Co-Chair of NDPC Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke reminded Lesotho’s leadership of “the many hours they had tirelessly worked …formally and informally to reach a national consensus”. He recommended speedy passing of the National Reforms Bill to safeguard the reforms process.
At the technical level, a team of 14 National and 7 International Experts completed synthesizing and distilling issues into succinct reform language for consideration and adoption by the National Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue Plenary II. The Sectoral drafts were handed over to the NDPC on 28 August 2019. These reports shall be the basis for deliberations at National Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue Plenary II slated for October 2019. The Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue Plenary II is expected to adopt the recommendation as the national consensus on reforms content for immediate implementation.