In­ter­ro­gat­ing the Third Coali­tion Agree­ment

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warded to the co-op­er­a­tors and oth­ers that have in­ter­est in the changes; and fur­ther that Par­ties may strike bi­lat­eral agree­ments — some of which al­ready ex­ist - for cab­i­net and se­nior of­fi­cers’ appointments, which shall form an­nexes to the main agree­ment.

I don’t know what to make of this am­bigu­ous fea­ture that, like an in­ter­na­tional trade ne­go­ti­a­tions pro­posal, it re­tains this un­ex­plained obli­ga­tion to “other par­ties” that might be in­ter­ested.

While this could be an un­con­sciously dragged ves­tige of the abortive ABC-DC pact; it could come in handy for govern­ment ex­pan­sion to fore­stall a catas­tro­phe like the March-june 2014 wa­ter­shed dis­in­te­gra­tion of govern­ment.

Con­versely, it could also be ex­ploited to “smug­gle” other four-plus-one par­ties into the compact to neu­tralise ex­ist­ing part­ner(s) or shore up an ob­struc­tive part­ner in an un­pop­u­lar ma­noeu­vre.

The best way to un­der­stand mo­ti­va­tion for a man’s ac­tions is per­haps sim­ply to ask him what he thinks he is do­ing.

The Coali­tion Agree­ment says it grap­ples with a weak demo­cratic cul­ture and a weak econ­omy which have left Le­sotho with po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, weak in­sti­tu­tions and po­lar­i­sa­tion of so­ci­ety — pro­duc­ing self-serv­ing po­lit­i­cal be­haviour in­ca­pable of evolv­ing so­cio-eco­nomic poli­cies that build a strong, shared econ­omy and fos­ter na­tional con­sen­sus. Nice words that don’t mean much.

It sim­ply says our fate placed us here. As a po­lit­i­cal/strat­egy con­sul­tant, you wouldn’t be sur­prised if your client govern­ment pre­sented you with this stuff - whereas they had to speak to both agency and struc­ture, man and his en­vi­ron­ment, the po­ten­tial driv­ers of change, and ob­sta­cles thereto.

But to be prag­matic, and avoid a charge of be­ing aca­demic, let us just as­sume the co-op­er­a­tors as dis­in­ter­ested con­trac­tors have de­fined weak econ­omy, in­sti­tu­tions, and ema­ci­ated democ­racy and pub­lic pol­icy ca­pac­ity as de­fi­cien­cies they want to at­tack.

The ab­sence of agency in this state­ment of the prob­lem, i.e fail­ure or con­scious re­fusal to name ac­tors re­spon­si­ble for de­gen­er­a­tion of demo­cratic cul­ture, nat­u­rally leaves the Agree­ment largely pre­serv­ing the sta­tus quo, shy in cur­rent com­mit­ments and hazy on fu­ture sce­nar­ios.

Those who thought it was go­ing to be a roadmap on state-so­ci­ety re­la­tions over the next one year and go­ing into the 60th month of this regime’s man­date will be dis­ap­pointed; but un­like the over­reach­ing Khokanyan’a Phiri agree­ment which promised heaven on earth and went on to in­stantly rub­bish all that, any agree­ment is re­ally not any­thing more than a ref­eree’s man­ual for part­ners’ in­ter­course.

Be­sides the four ob­jec­tives of na­tional unity, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, peace and sta­bil­ity that give the Agree­ment its name; there are (i) com­mit­ment to in­de­pen­dent and in­clu­sive re­forms, though I don’t quite un­der­stand what in­de­pen­dence of re­forms means, and find it fas­ci­nat­ing that it says re­forms of Par­lia­ment will be led by it­self build­ing on the new Zealand re­forms pro­pos­als; (ii) deep­en­ing democ­racy es­pe­cially ci­ti­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion, where greater ac­cess to Par­lia­ment in­clud­ing pe­ti­tion­ing will be key; (iii) rein­tro­duc­ing a cul­ture of hu­man rights and civil lib­er­ties as en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion; and (iv) es­pous­ing good gov­er­nance per in­ter­na­tional stan­dards with em­pha­sis on ac­count­abil­ity — where among oth­ers fo­cus will be on the Par­lia­ment’s real su­per­vi­sion of the govern­ment and of the pub­lic ser­vice and its com­mis­sions; (v) and a pri­vate sec­tor-based eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

I have reser­va­tion on the word­ing of “es­pous­ing good gov­er­nance”, which doesn’t quite sound like swear­ing by it, mak­ing it one’s oath.

The de­liv­ery of these ob­jec­tives is sup­posed to be shep­herded by “a fully au­tho­rised, im­ple­men­ta­tion, mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture”.

The eight-point “pri­or­ity pol­icy pro­gramme” (sec­tion 3) com­mits the part­ners to a 90-days time­frame, from the date of ef- fec­tive­ness of the Agree­ment (not given, but pre­sum­ably the sig­na­ture date), to (i) pro­duce an eco­nomic re­form blue­print to stop eco­nomic stag­na­tion; (ii) pass new pro­cure­ment leg­is­la­tion, and pub­lic pro­cure­ment pol­icy for “po­lit­i­cally ex­posed” per­sons in­clud­ing ministers and of­fi­cers; (iii) strengthen in­ves­tiga­tive and ju­di­cial branches and im­ple­ment a re­vamped as­sets dec­la­ra­tion pol­icy.

All these will take place un­der the canopy of im­ple­men­ta­tion of all the de­ci­sions of SADC in­ter­ven­tion (Phumaphi Com­mis­sion Re­port), the SOMILES and Com­mon­wealth / New Zealand re­forms rec­om­men­da­tions. The Govern­ment will also re­view and im­ple­ment the 2014 De­cen­tral­i­sa­tion Pol­icy be­fore Septem­ber 30 lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.

The agree­ment im­por­tantly ex­presses the ur­gency of ac­cel­er­at­ing cer­tain re­form mea­sures to “limit abuse of of­fice” and safe­guard the compact and pub­lic con­fi­dence in the Coali­tion govern­ment. Call me max­i­mal­ist or naïve, but I cringe at phras­ing that seeks to lessen rot, and not de­clare it pub­lic en­emy.

The sec­tion (4) on Gen­eral Prin­ci­ples speaks more to modal­i­ties of col­lab­o­ra­tion, be­ing named as (1) good faith, col­lab­o­ra­tive en­gage­ment and no sur­prises, (2) pro­por­tional al­lo­ca­tion of cab­i­net, Se­nate, se­nior of­fi­cial, am­bas­sado­rial, statu­tory cor­po­ra­tions’ and com­mis­sions’, and district ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions; (3) sus­tain­ing part­ners’ in­di­vid­ual iden­ti­ties; (4) es­tab­lish­ment of a Lead­ers’ Cau­cus, to con­vene reg­u­larly and ur­gently at any leader’s re­quest; (5) free­dom of par­ties to openly air dis­agree­ments / al­ter­na­tive views pub­licly and in Par­lia­ment.

This last one con­tra­dicts the ar­ti­cle (8.1) which com­mits the par­ties to vot­ing in sup­port of the govern­ment at all times in con­fi­dence, sup­ply (i.e bud­getary), and pro­ce­dural mo­tions in Par­lia­ment and in port­fo­lio com­mit­tees.

In re­spect of the Cab­i­net (sec­tion 5), the Agree­ment con­sid­ers the cur­rent size too large and sec­torally frag­mented at 34, be­ing 26 ministers and eight (8) deputy ministers; and com­mits to re­view and re­align­ment of min­istries’ re­spon­si­bil­i­ties by next fi­nan­cial year — with con­sid­er­a­tion for a slim and fo­cused cab­i­net in fu­ture.

It is pro­vided that all cab­i­net will be ap­pointed, in con­sul­ta­tion with Coali­tion part­ners, by the prime min­is­ter who will also be re­spon­si­ble for their per­for­mance and dis­ci­pline; be dis­miss­ing or reshuf­fling a min­is­ter the prime min­is­ter shall first con­sult the Coali­tion Part­ner af­fected.

Cab­i­net in en­joined to meet reg­u­larly, as the sole place for for­mal de­ci­sions on crit­i­cal is­sues pre­scribed by the con­sti­tu­tion, to which de­ci­sions all ministers shall be com­mit­ted, “un­less Cab­i­net gives ap­proval for a Min­is­ter to take a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion”. Now, this one sounds quite an out­lier on the graph grid! They might wish to ex­plain it.

In re­la­tion to top pub­lic ser­vants in govern­ment, cor­po­ra­tions, and diplo­macy, the part­ners com­mit to re­vis­it­ing the def­i­ni­tion of “po­lit­i­cal appointments”; with a view to “de­politi­cis­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the pub­lic ser­vice”.

To this end it is pledged that hir­ing prac­tices in the cor­po­ra­tions will be re­viewed and cor­rec­tive mea­sures taken, and fit-for-pur­pose as­sess­ment of boards un­der­taken. This isn’t prom­ise of any­thing at all.

The drafters of the Agree­ment should be aware of state-of-the-art pre­cepts of cor­po­rate gov­er­nance in­clud­ing the New Pub­lic Man­age­ment dis­course, the King pro­cesses etc —and I think they could be at least im­plic­itly (de­scrip­tively) al­luded to!

There is promised an ac­cel­er­a­tion of “mea­sures to pre­vent abuse of of­fice by any Party in the Coali­tion Govern­ment”, and in­jec­tion of trans­parency in the ap­point­ment of se­cu­rity chiefs and heads of Con­sti­tu­tional over­sight in­sti­tu­tions like Om­buds­man, Au­di­tor Gen­eral, etc.

All in all, this Agree­ment is a index of pos­i­tive things in mo­tion. It is overly cau­tious in its pos­i­tive-sound­ing un­der­tak­ings, and is shy of com­mit­ting to time lim­its in even those ar­eas it high­lights as ex­e­cutable with­out con­straints of leg­isla­tive re­forms, but it is still; and a good ref­er­ence point.

l Mr Selinyane’s views do not nec­es­sar­iLy re­flect THE views of THE Le­sotho Times.

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