Where is the coalition government bill?
While lesotho is experiencing a change of culture in terms of engagement in public affairs, what is observable is that the increased desire to be involved and do participate in the public discourse does not mean increased understanding but just partisan activism.
The danger of simply active rank and file is the leadership mediocrity and general degeneration of public affairs into private matters. One way of gauging one’s political maturity and assessing level of conscientisation in public affairs is to check one’s ability to recognise objectivity even when that does not promote one’s political side.
The question “Where is Coalition Government Bill?” and the consequential debate provide a practical test for this.
For many novices in public affairs engagement would not be anything except naïve partisan debates. When positivity is identified and acknowledged in government, those in opposition see that as nothing but promotion of government at the expense of opposition. When government is rebuked and called to order those in government parties become paranoid.
When this and the sister column in the sister newspaper discussed the Khokanyana phiri coalition agreement programme and applauded the team of seven for starting with the programme, the novices in public affairs, saw that as promoting the coalition simply because they could not fit the debate in what their orientation in politics has taught them. in the meantime, those affiliated to government parties were comforted by the fact that they were positively appraised.
When the same government was called to account for acts of government agencies that were against the agreement programme such as violations of rights, the reaction was not simple indifference but an outright attack on those who reminded coalition its commitment. instead of rising in protest against leaders who deviate from agreed programme, activists fight those who call for adherence to the coalition agreement programme.
Why? is because of inadequate appreciation of what is wrong and right or just blind obedience to those who do not want to be held accountable? For the political apprentices the business is to applaud today and condemn tomorrow the same persons, organisations or actors not on issues holistically but only to the extent that they feel scorned or promoted whatever the case may be.
While this is unhealthy for lesotho politics and to a very great extent irritating, abandoning and ignoring this sector can only be a foundation for a bigger trouble which will tomorrow be described as disaster to this Kingdom.
if political orientation is left to unscrupulous politicians who can do anything including use of resources to recruit youth into political myopias, do not say it is a disaster when it yields results but a design. Part of alternative for this is for the reader to gauge one’s political maturity by assessing one’s appreciation of the issues raised here within one’s political affiliation.
The last paragraph of the Coalition Agreement programme reads “the Coalition Government will within six months of the signing of this agreement bring a Bill to the house to confirm the legal status of the coalition agreement. This Bill will reflect the international best practice”. Hallo Coalition Government!
The Coalition Agreement was signed on Friday 10th April 2015 by leaders of seven political parties making this government and October 10th 2015 shall mark the end of six months period contemplated in the agreement.
hello, Coalition Governemnt! is this promise still going to be fullfilled? In terms of Section D1 of the same Agreement Coalition leaders shall meet as frequently as monthly or more to discuss governemnt programme and legislative and policy programme progress.
What progress has leaders received on this promise? While the Prime Minister, also the chair of the said forum should tell how far and whether the deadline set by his governemnt will still be met, each and everyone of the seven leaders must account because that should have been raised and or reported in the contemplated monthly meetings. Do coalition leaders meet monthly and for the purposes enshirined in Section D1 of the agreement?
if no, why not? if yes, what progress report has been given on this proposed law? This may not be solely put on leaders but to the parlaimentarians of the governemnt side as well. In Section D2, it is provided that there shall be motnhly joint parlaimentary caucus to consider any matter they may wish to raise with one another. MPS, where is the Bill? What has been disciussed in the monthly joint parliamentary caucus?
Are the caucuses, there? if no, why not? if yes what have they said about this provision with timelines? May be these questions are difficult for the implementers who right from the beginning have committed that they will set up a monitoring group made of party representatives and people with expertise and who may be agreed upon by all parties.
The reality is that those who are concerned with implementation are not necessarily ready for monitoring and evaluation as their task. This is why it was a good intention in the first place for the Khokanyana Phiri government architects to think of monitoring as a distinct task. This group which was to be set up within three months should have developed processes and timelines for better implementation, review and evaluation.
Understandably this was supposed to be a public document like the parent document itself for ease of access and public engagement. is this understanding misplaced? hello, Coalition government Monitoring Group, is the Bill still to be expected within six months? Perhaps the appropriate question is, has the group been established? if no, why not? if yes, who are members and what is the way of operation? Is it a closed or public office that can be accessed by other groups like civil society for progressive engagement?
The Coalition commitment to bring Coalition Bill within six months was not only the most clearly defined promise within the Coalition Government Agreement programme but it also reflected the level of understanding of those forming government on how Section 87(2) of the Lesotho constitution has been mutilated since 1993.
Following the New Zealand trip and the subsequent report, civil society organisations in particular Development for Peace Education facilitated public debate in the villages over the necessary reforms. Under Section Five on Community Voices on Necessary Reforms in particular in the Sub Section 5.2.9 pages 31-33 of the Community Voices Report on New Zealand Report of 2014, 69 percent of the communities wanted steps of government formation after elections to be codified. So the Coalition Agreement that came after community voices was seen as a direct response to communities and as progressive departure from the misapplication of Section 87(2) of the constitution.
The Section Six on Political Party Views in 6.3 Party Views, pages 34-35, of the same report captures the consensus of political parties which were consulted on the community voices as follows
“The need for the codification of steps to be followed after elections in the formation of the new government. Since this is not necessarily something that may need new law, but rather interpretation of the Constitution and other laws, it could even be introduced through Standing Orders or in another agreed way”.
in this way opposition parties should not be spared of the question because they earlier expressed a need for such and in their duty to push government to deliver the good to the people should be able to account. Where is coalition government bill?