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Chance to set Lesotho on the right path



Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili last week presented a Roadmap towards reforms to SADC leaders at a summit in Mbabane, Swaziland.

The Roadmap has clear signposts of the issues that will be addressed to restore political normalcy in Lesotho.

To kick-start the process a Constitution Making Body (CMB) will be set up by the end of this month.

The new constitution to be crafted during the process will likely be put to a referendum in the last three months of 2018.

Under the Roadmap the government says it hopes to have completed negotiations for army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli’s removal by March next year.

The issue of Kamoli’s removal has proved a deal-breaker in talks with opposition leaders who have insisted they will not come back home until he is dismissed.

However, the government has insisted that General Kamoli is a loyal and committed soldier who deserves a decent exit.

If the opposition leaders stick to their guns, they risk being left behind at the very start of the reform process. That would be unfortunate.

From our reading of the Roadmap, it is clear that the road towards reforms will not be easy. It will likely to be bumpy and tortuous as contending parties position themselves for a strike at political power in the next elections in 2020.

Yet, Lesotho must embark on such a route for the sake of posterity. In our opinion, the proposed reforms represent a defining moment for Lesotho.

It gives Basotho a historic opportunity to fix, once and for all time, the democratic deficits that have haunted this small Kingdom over the last 46 years.

With all hands on the deck, the reform process will give Basotho an opportunity to chart a fresh path towards peace, prosperity and development.

Narrow political interests should not be allowed to sabotage this process. It would be naïve to see this constitutional process as a preparation for the next election.

The 1993 Constitution has been exposed over the years as a flawed document that needed patching up. We need a new document to guide our nation.

Lesotho can draw important lessons from constitutional reform processes in Kenya and South Africa in recent years. There is much we can learn from those processes.

While the reforms will not provide a magic bullet for all our woes, we believe they provide a good start for all key players in Lesotho to take this country forward.

It would be tempting for the opposition to adopt a belligerent attitude and dismiss the reforms as a “government thing”. It is none of that.

These reforms must have the buy-in of every Mosotho if they are to be successful.

That is why we have argued in the past that the government must create a conducive political atmosphere to allow for the return of the exiled leaders.

To have a veneer of credibility the reform process must be as inclusive as humanely possible.

For Mosisili, the reform process will likely define the Premier’s legacy.

Mosisili will likely be remembered as the Prime Minister who was in charge at a difficult time for Lesotho but executed his prime ministerial duties with dignity and honour for the greater good of the country.

It is with that spirit that Mosisili must steer through the reforms with his legacy in mind.

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