Interrogating the Third Coalition Agreement
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 ...