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Back to the drawing board



We have noted with interest a judgment by the Constitutional Court this week regarding the recall of parliament that paved way for the passing of the reforms Bill last month.

In a judgment delivered on Monday, the court ruled that the decision by King Letsie III to recall parliament to pass the national reforms was a violation of Lesotho’s constitution.

The judges said the King was ill-advised when he recalled parliament.

The unanimous judgment was read by Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane with Justice Tšeliso Monapathi and Justice ’Mafelile Ralebese assenting.

The court also ruled that Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s decision to declare a state of emergency so as to recall parliament was null and void.

What this means is that all the Bills that were passed by the recalled parliament are null and void. This is a serious blow to Lesotho’s reform agenda.

As a constitutional democracy, the government will obviously be bound by the judgment and will have to apply it to the letter despite how painful this process will be.

What the judgment has done is to reverse two years’ of hard work in trying to craft a new constitutional order to fix Lesotho’s political problems. We are now back on ground zero.

The judges said the declaration of a state of emergency by the Prime Minister did not meet the constitutional threshold of what constitutes an emergency.

In simple terms the judges said there was no emergency that posed a grave threat to Lesotho’s sovereignty and its people.

What we saw was a spectacular failure by the executive and legislative branches of the government to finish the reform agenda on time. They should have prioritised the two Bills during the tenure of parliament.

But they didn’t. They fumbled along the way until they ran out of time. The judges in effect said this was a problem of the politicians’ own making.

The court made it clear that politicians had let down the country by failing to complete the process within the allotted time.

We agree.

Justice Sakoane said the new government that will take over the reins after the October 7 general election must now resuscitate the reform agenda so as to complete the process without violating the law.

The new government must reconvene the National Reforms Authority (NRA) to push the reforms agenda.

It would be tempting to accuse Kananelo Boloetse and Advocate Lintle Tuke, the men who filed the case, of doing the bidding of politicians. That would be a mistake.

Boloetse has rejected charges that he is in the pockets of any politician. He insists he is his own man, motivated by what he sees as a violation of Lesotho’s constitution.

The two were therefore merely exercising their rights to challenge what they saw as a violation of the constitution.

Of course, there are also certain politicians who will be happy with the latest development after they expressed some misgivings about the Bill which they said would trim the powers of a Prime Minister.

Whilst most of the work done so far in the reforms process was good, there is need to build consensus to ensure that we as Basotho sing from the same hymnbook.

We risk making a tragic mistake if we were to rush to implement reforms when we are still haggling as to which Bill is the correct one.


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