Let na­tional in­ter­est hold sway in parly

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

BA­SOTHO wait with bated breath for the open­ing of the 9th Par­lia­ment to­mor­row which sig­nals an end to the pe­riod of dys­func­tion that cul­mi­nated in the nine-month pro­ro­ga­tion of par­lia­ment by for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane last June.

Whether it was jus­ti­fied or not, the pro­ro­ga­tion re­sulted in bills that were be­fore par­lia­ment, both in the Na­tional As­sem­bly and Se­nate, to be can­celled. They will, thus, need to be in­tro­duced anew when par­lia­ment re­sumes.

Thank­fully, how­ever, the gov­er­nance train can fi­nally get back on track af­ter the na­tion seemed to be on auto pi­lot for the bet­ter half of last year.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives Ba­sotho elected dur­ing the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 Na­tional As­sem­bly elec­tions can fi­nally start im­ple­ment­ing the prom­ises they made dur­ing the cam­paign trail. The seven party gov­ern­ment can also fi­nally con­sum­mate their Coali­tion Agree­ment and bring about the devel­op­ment Ba­sotho have so long yearned for.

Par­lia­ment could not be open­ing soon enough since the pass­ing of the bud­get by the au­gust house is al­ready be­hind sched­ule.

Be­cause of the de­lay, the leg­is­la­ture could not play its role of ex­am­in­ing and ap­prov­ing gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture.

How­ever, it can­not be overem­pha­sized that ci­vil­ity and the na­tional in­ter­est must reign supreme in the con­duct of our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Ul­ti­mately, the 9th Par­lia­ment must be­queath a last­ing le­gacy of pro­gres­sive leg­is­la­tion and not leave the elec­torate with a bad taste in the mouth.

It would be un­for­tu­nate if our leg­is­la­tors were to once again ren­der void the ob­jec­tives of King Let­sie III’S Speech from the Throne by en­gag­ing in end­less wran­gling and one-up­man­ship.

No pro­gres­sive Mosotho would want to see scenes akin to the fra­cas we have seen of late in the South African par­lia­ment where Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPS) had to be ejected from the au­gust house by se­cu­rity agents for wreak­ing havoc.

MPS owe it to their elec­tors to dis­charge their du­ties with the deco­rum that characterised the vot­ing process dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary. There was no dis­cern­able vi­o­lence dur­ing the polls, de­spite the pal­pa­ble ten­sion, with Ba­sotho pa­tiently wait­ing to see who would form gov­ern­ment.

Now is the time to bring about the dig­nity to the gov­er­nance process that Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili promised dur­ing the cam­paign trail. It can­not be the pre­mier alone who brings back the san­ity but all stake­hold­ers in­volved.

Le­sotho has lost a lot of po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal ow­ing to the un­savoury events that characterised pre­vi­ous years both at a con­ti­nen­tal and global level, and it is par­lia­ment’s role to help re­gain that lost lus­tre.

So, it be­hooves all MPS to live up to the ideals that earned par­lia­ment the ti­tle of “au­gust” house. This rule should ap­ply across the po­lit­i­cal divide. While it is the op­po­si­tion’s role to bring gov­ern­ment to ac­count for its poli­cies and ac­tions, an­tag­o­nism for its own sake will not take this na­tion any­where. It’s one thing to vig­i­lantly fight for just prin­ci­ples and quite an­other to throw span­ners in the gov­ern­ment’s works merely for po­lit­i­cal mileage.

On the other hand, ar­ro­gance on the part of gov­ern­ment would be its un­do­ing as ev­i­denced by the pre­ma­ture end of the pre­vi­ous coali­tion ad­min­is­tra­tion. As the old adage goes, “when two ele­phants fight, the grass suf­fers” and the re­sults of the bruis­ing tus­sle be­tween congress and na­tion­al­ist par­ties were all too clear for the whole world to see. Le­sotho and Ba­sotho are all the more poorer for it.

The scenes we saw dur­ing the swear­ing-in of MPS on 10 March in which Dr Mo­sisili, All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion leader Thomas Tha­bane and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing chat­ted and laughed to­gether were heart­en­ing. Long may they con­tinue to help defuse the ten­sion that had been brew­ing in the last ses­sion of the house.

De­spite their well doc­u­ment dif­fer­ences, our leg­is­la­tors must find rap­proche­ment on coin­ing laws that bring about the in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion of the econ­omy pro­vide so­cial ser­vices.

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