In­ter­ro­gat­ing the Third Coali­tion Agree­ment

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

SO the third coali­tion gov­ern­ment has “fi­nally” been signed some two-and-a-half months since the Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s in­vesti­ture! This is half the time the just­de­posed Khokanyan’a Phiri coali­tion took to pub­lish such an agree­ment, though its captains were al­ready fill­ing the skies with protes­ta­tions that their suc­ces­sor regime es­tab­lished its full com­ple­ment and even went on to pass the 2017/18 bud­get with­out the Agree­ment. They com­plained the new rulers left the na­tion, in­ter­est groups and ri­vals with noth­ing by which to judge them as their own com­mit­ment. They even falsely claimed this was un­prece­dented and con­trary to nor­mal prac­tice or tra­di­tion.

It is billed as an agree­ment of the four rul­ing par­ties, “with the pos­si­ble par­tic­i­pa­tion of other po­lit­i­cal par­ties rep­re­sented in Par­lia­ment” — a tag which to­gether with the Agree­ment’s ti­tle or theme, would seem to be bor­rowed or do­nated from the Novem­ber 2016 draft agree­ment be­tween the Mo­sisi­lid­itch­ing Demo­cratic Congress (DC) of Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki and the then op­po­si­tion leader Dr Tha­bane’s All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC).

While this re­la­tion­ship doesn’t raise eye­brows given the com­po­si­tion of the gov­ern­ment, cer­tain fea­tures not only shock but also dis­ap­point and de­press the reader into think­ing s/he’s be­ing duped with a prod­uct whose ped­dlers have scant or no com­mit­ment to it.

I am not sold to the idea, for ex­am­ple, that the au­thors wanted to tell the world, about them­selves: “The cur­rent gov­ern­ment of Lesotho has lost trust of a large sec­tion of the Ba­sotho peo­ple and its in­ter­na­tional part­ners” (1.3), or that any­one liv­ing through or fol­low­ing cur­rent de­vel­op­ments in Lesotho would be­lieve that at the time of sig­na­ture, the gov­ern­ment had as its first ob­jec­tive as “To res­cue Lesotho from the cur­rent down­ward spi­ral into law­less­ness, con­flict, po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, eco­nomic stag­na­tion, and deg- ra­da­tion of democ­racy”. Call that dere­lic­tion of duty of care, whose in­stru­men­tal­ity in en­emy hands can be lethal, and pass to con­tent on of­fer.

The first coali­tion gov­ern­ment agree­ment was pub­lished roughly half a year af­ter the for­ma­tion of the 2012 gov­ern­ment, and its 2015 suc­ces­sor only a month short; but they don’t add any value to ac­count­abil­ity or de­pend­abil­ity of the gov­ern­ment.

The 2015 Agree­ment could be a UN man­ual on gover­nance, ac­cept­ing the me­dia as fourth es­tate and pledg­ing co­op­er­a­tive in­ter­course and em­pow­er­ment of the sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety, pro­tect­ing hu­man rights, com­bat­ting cor­rup­tion and strength­en­ing ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence and ex­ec­u­tive ac­count­abil­ity, de­politi­ci­sa­tion of the pub­lic ser­vice and se­cu­rity forces etc. — all of which the gov­ern­ment abun­dantly be­trayed and vi­o­lated, em­i­nently cul­mi­nat­ing in the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion.

Dur­ing the 1998-2002 tran­si­tion — a full decade be­fore the first coali­tion gov­ern­ment — the Peo­ple’s Par­lia­ment of Candi Ra­main­oane, Se­abata Masienyane and Thabo Qh­esi called for rul­ing par­ties’ cam­paign prom­ises to be cod­i­fied and leg­is­lated as their gov­ern­ment’s de­vel­op­ment plat­form, which they could be sued or im­peached for not im­ple­ment­ing.

A hard call, but what re­mains is that the chal­lenge of prom­ises be­trayed isn’t a monop-

The cur­rent Agree­ment is very clear (at 5.11 and 5.12) that while the prime min­is­ter will ap­point the cabi­net, se­nior of­fi­cials, am­bas­sadors, etc. and ex­er­cise his other pre­rog­a­tive af­ter con­sult­ing his part­ners, that “con­sul­ta­tion shall not mean agree­ment on each of the de­ci­sions”.

It pro­vides con­sciously that he will ex­er­cise such pre­rog­a­tive “in the in­ter­ests of pre­serv­ing the sta­bil­ity of the Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment”, within the gen­eral am­bi­ence of good faith.

Any agree­ment is, of course, only as strong and sus­tain­able as the good faith of its mem­bers, and Dr Tha­bane knows only too well the bit­ter fruits of any per­cep­tion of lack­ing in that by part­ners.

Two im­por­tant as­pects of any agree­ment are me­di­a­tion and flex­i­bil­ity/adapt­abil­ity. This agree­ment is to be me­di­ated by a four­man im­ple­men­ta­tion and mon­i­tor­ing “mech­a­nism” rep­re­sent­ing each of the part­ners; and an­other “mech­a­nism” of em­i­nent, in­de­pen­dent, wise lo­cal per­sons will be es­tab­lished for re­fer­ral of dis­putes, while SADC and other in­ter­state part­ners will form a sec­ond tier of such re­fer­ral.

The Agree­ment also pro­vides for amend­ment of its pro­vi­sions by the part­ners, where­upon copies of the changed texts will be forCon­tin­ues on Page 18 ...

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