Ninth parly doomed from the start

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Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances in a healthy democ­racy, gov­ern­ment and the op­po­si­tion ought to agree, in the pub­lic in­ter­est, on a short­ened Ap­pro­pri­ate Bill. That re­quires the agree­ment or sup­port of the op­po­si­tion.

The bill would be short in that it would con­tain only se­lected/agreed bud­getary items e.g. al­lo­ca­tion to fund the 3 June elec­tion and other don’t omit items, leav­ing every­thing else for the next par­lia­ment.

This hap­pens else­where. Early end­ing of par­lia­ment is not unique to Le­sotho. Par­lia­ments have to re­spond pos­i­tively to such de­vel­op­ments. The short Bill would re­quire only a few days to as­sent to, and par­lia­ment would even ad­journ on the very day of as­sent.

It is doubt­ful if the Ninth Par­lia­ment, by its na­ture and at­ti­tude par­tic­u­larly, would have con­ceded to such an ar­range­ment. The op­po­si­tion wanted noth­ing less than a change of gov­ern­ment.

Luck­ily or un­for­tu­nately, de­pend­ing on which side one is, the con­sti­tu­tion as a guide, an­tic­i­pated dis­unity and pro­vided for flex­i­bil­ity and al­ter­na­tive routes in the man­age­ment of se­ri­ous na­tional af­fairs.

Stand­ing Or­ders which were ele­gantly ex­plained in court are a tool of pro­ce­dure for the House and have to be con­sti­tu­tional.

Un­for­tu­nately, it is the op­po­si­tion which rig­or­ously stood in the way of their im­ple­men­ta­tion to the later, by not al­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion and tabling of the bud­get.

In­stead, it went to court but with­held the fact it had an in­put in the fail­ure to present the bud­get.

vi. What does the 10th parly hold? Bad habits die hard. One won­ders what par­lia­men­tary mix the 3 June elec­tion will usher in.

Re­cently, one in­ter­vie­wee over a lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion re­peated what was said over and over be­fore by the op­po­si­tion, that the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tion needs to be amended.

They were ac­tu­ally say­ing with­out them, there would be no mean­ing­ful re­view of the con­sti­tu­tion in ar­eas where two thirds ma­jor­ity was manda­tory.

Will they sing that song again? The other side of the story was that a new con­sti­tu­tion was the an­swer to many prob­lems Le­sotho fre­quently faces. Can we pre­dict that if they come back as a gov­ern­ment they will only fa-

cil­i­tate amend­ments to the 1993 ver­sion or if they oc­cupy the op­po­si­tion they will press for its amend­ments by op­pos­ing a com­plete re­write of the doc­u­ment?

There is the ques­tion of a hung par­lia­ment. The third coali­tion gov­ern­ment would bet­ter re­mem­ber that its sur­vival de­pends on its abil­ity to stand to­gether.

The first coali­tion col­lapsed just be­cause it dis­re­garded this and jus­ti­fied its dis­rup­tive ac­tions as con­sti­tu­tional. The sec­ond coali­tion was un­der­mined by dis­sent and re­bel­lion by its mem­bers: al­legedly as a re­sponse to in­ci­dents, per­sonal in­ter­ests or bet­ter of­fers or op­por­tu­ni­ties from some­where. Causes of coali­tions to fall apart are many.

Be that as it may, one wishes for ef­forts to be made to en­sure that his­tory does not repeat it­self dur­ing the 10th Par­lia­ment. It has pre­vi­ously been re­peated in this pa­per, that coali­tions stand a risk of a bull dog and puppy re­la­tions where a puppy may end up hold­ing the bull dog hostage when the lat­ter shows the way.

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