Was par­lia­ment di­vided over in­de­pen­dence in 1966?

Lesotho Times - - Leader - So­fonea Shale

Le­sotho marks the 49th an­niver­sary of in­de­pen­dence this year by launch­ing sec­toral prepa­ra­tions for na­tional cel­e­bra­tions for the golden ju­bilee next year. one of sev­eral ques­tions youth ask about in­de­pen­dence is whether it is true or not that Le­sotho par­lia­ment was di­vided over the in­de­pen­dence mo­tion in 1966?

the Min­is­ter of home Af­fairs, Ad­vo­cate Lekhetho Rakuaooane has called upon Ba­sotho through their dif­fer­ent for­ma­tions to come up with pro­pos­als and ways through which they will to mark the 50th An­niver­sary of in­de­pen­dence of Le­sotho.

this chal­lenge pro­vides op­por­tu­nity for Ba­sotho to re­flect on the past 50 years and de­fine their king­dom in the next five decades. De­pend­ing on how gov­ern­ment han­dles this, Ba­sotho may have op­por­tu­nity to en­hance col­lab­o­ra­tion, strengthen peace­ful co-ex­is­tence and per­haps adopt the cul­ture of peace as the way to go.

If the na­tional cel­e­bra­tion held in Mafeteng is used as il­lus­tri­ous ex­am­ple on the gov­ern­ment ap­proach, the pro­nounce­ment by hon temeki tšolo MP for Mafeteng con­stituency where cel­e­bra­tion was held that he was not in­vited would raise eye brows.

If Tšolo is cor­rect then that is a big flop for gov­ern­ment, in or­der to mo­bilise Ba­sotho to take this as their ini­tia­tive, gov­ern­ment should be em­brac­ing. In var­i­ous pol­icy ex­pres­sions in this King­dom, Ba­sotho have said what Le­sotho they want, but lead­ers both in gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion have cho­sen to turn this King­dom into a bat­tle ground for bare-power con­tes­ta­tions for self-ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion.

the best way to put politi­cians to or­der is for peo­ple take the lead and di­rect politi­cians and aban­don the cul­ture of be­ing sub­mis­sive. this am­bi­tious ap­proach may be pos­si­ble with youth in­volve­ment and part of their ori­en­ta­tion is on in­de­pen­dence.

In some dis­cus­sions, youth asked a ques­tion is true or not that Le­sotho par­lia­ment was di­vided over the in­de­pen­dence mo­tion in 1966? While this was ad­dressed there and then, it might be nec­es­sary for pur­poses of sharp­en­ing youth ap­petite on na­tional is­sues to fur­ther en­gage this at the wider level.

on Mon­day, 18th April 1966, in the Na­tional As­sem­bly of Ba­su­toland, the then Prime Min­is­ter, Morena Le­abua Jonathan and the leader of Ba­suto Na­tional Party (BNP) pro­posed the mo­tion “that her Majesty’s Gov­ern­ment do grant In­de­pen­dence to Le­sotho in terms of the Agree­ment reached in Lon­don in 1964 and in terms of the White pa­per pre­sented to both houses of Par­lia­ment on the 8th March 1966”.

this was aimed at for­mally end­ing the cen­tury long ar­range­ment where Ba­sotho were for all in­tends and pur­poses treated as a colony de­spite their for­mal sta­tus of be­ing a Bri­tish Pro­tec­torate.

this fol­lowed the 1963 Con­sti­tu­tional Com­mis­sion, the Con­sti­tu­tional Con­fer­ence in Lon­don in 1964 and the Na­tional As­sem­bly elec­tions of 1965. In Lon­don, Ba­sotho were rep­re­sented by J.t Mapetla, C.T.L Chakela, R.G Lerotholi, G.P Ramore­boli, C.K Nkuebe, e. Leanya, s.s Matete, B.M Khaketla, Le­abua Jonathan and Ntsu Mokhehle.

speak­ing on this mo­tion, the leader of op­po­si­tion and the leader of Ba­suto Congress Party (BCP) made his sub­mis­sion con­tin­u­ously from 18th April to 21st April 1966 in the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

the leader of op­po­si­tion raised a num­ber of is­sues and con­cluded his sub­mis­sion by propos­ing an amend­ment to the mo­tion that “there be a se­lect Com­mit­tee to es­tab­lish whether all con­di­tions re­ferred to in the Lon­don Agree­ment have been sat­is­fied, that mo­tion to Her Majesty to grant in­de­pen­dence not be made un­less two thirds ma­jor­ity is ob­tained in both houses, reser­va­tion of Bills, for­eign af­fairs, pub­lic ser­vice, defence and in­ter­nal se­cu­rity be un­der the King and be ad­min­is­tered as ad­vised by Na­tional se­cu­rity Coun­cil to be com­posed of the King or his nom­i­nee, Prime Min­is­ter, nom­i­nee of op­po­si­tion leader, re­tired judge ap­pointed by Ju­di­cial ser­vice Com­mis­sion and Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Force, that ma­jor na­tional or in­ter­na­tional mat­ters like treaties be agreed by two thirds ma­jor­ity of both houses of par­lia­ment, that or­di­nary bills and mo­tions not af­fect par­lia­ment and that draft con­sti­tu­tion form ba­sis for in­de­pen­dence talks and be­fore then be passed by two thirds ma­jor­ity of both houses of Par­lia­ment”.

the pro­posed amend­ment was not granted and the fi­nal vot­ing on the sub­stan­tive mo­tion got 32 “Ayes” which rep- re­sents “yes” and 28 “Noes” which rep­re­sents “no”.

this ar­ti­cle pro­vides an an­swer to the ques­tion asked how­ever, it also be­comes a provo­ca­tion for fur­ther in­quiry for those who may want to be con­ver­sant with the con­tes­ta­tions over Le­sotho’s in­de­pen­dence.

If young peo­ple want to be rel­e­vant in what their coun­try should look like it would be a re­quire­ment to en­gage fur­ther to un­der­stand why in­de­pen­dence mo­tion was not sup­ported by all mem­bers of Na­tional As­sem­bly in 1966.

Want­ing to be taken se­ri­ous in Le­sotho pol­i­tics yet re­luc­tant to en­gage and seek knowl­edge be­yond in­for­ma­tion nor­mally pro­vided by politi­cians is a recipe for dis­as­ter.

It would be quite in­ter­est­ing for young peo­ple to trace th­ese con­tes­ta­tions and see how they have been re­solved if they have been and what are the im­pli­ca­tions if they have not been re­solved. th­ese con­tes­ta­tions would clearly in­form dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion for youth with BNP and BCP in­cli­na­tions re­spec­tively.

the only way to break that naivety is for youth them­selves from both sides of po­lit­i­cal di­vide to dig deeper and go fur­ther to ap­pre­ci­ate the con­tes­ta­tions and how if they were re­solved if any at any par­tic­u­lar time.

this en­gage­ment is rel­e­vant be­cause youth must un­der­stand whether at this time politi­cians share sim­i­lar ap­pre­ci­a­tion on the sovereignty of Le­sotho and how that is ap­plied and might need to be ap­plied in fu­ture.

While the con­ven­tional def­i­ni­tion of sovereignty is mal­leable to the chang­ing dy­nam­ics such as ever com­plex re­la­tions be­tween and among glob­al­is­ing states, it is still rel­e­vant to states to ap­pre­ci­ate how sov­er­eigns in the con­tem­po­rary world in­ter­act.

Fail­ure to ap­pre­ci­ate this tech­ni­cally surrenders in­de­pen­dence of this na­tion to other na­tions who would have spent some time think­ing about their in­de­pen­dence and in­ter­de­pen­dence.

Un­less Ba­sotho take nec­es­sary proac­tive steps, they would be com­pelled to re-de­fine iden­tity of their sov­er­eign state in terms and con­di­tions dic­tated by the oth­ers. May be the start­ing point could be is true or not that Le­sotho par­lia­ment was di­vided over the in­de­pen­dence mo­tion in 1966?

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