Opin­ion

Makha­bane Maluke

Sunday Express - - LEADER -

tion not­with­stand­ing such pro­ro­ga­tion… [Fifth/2000 edi­tion]”. Par­lia­ment of Le­sotho is ac­tu­ally held hostage through re­liance on tra­di­tions, prac­tice etc set by other democ­ra­cies which may have al­ter­na­tive ways and means, out of par­lia­ment, to ad­dress rec­om­men­da­tions which get quashed in the sit­u­a­tion of Le­sotho. Good­ness of SOs shows in their abil­ity to re­de­fine the im­age of a par­lia­ment.

Due you doubt a sit­u­a­tion in a re­ally cor­rupt regime where a par­lia­ment may be pro­rogued for two days an undis­closed mo­tive to cover up to kill pur­suit of a cor­rup­tion mat­ter pend­ing be­fore par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees. Good SOs can en­sure that this valu­able tool of pro­ro­ga­tion re­mains use­ful and rel­e­vant e.g. to en­able re-in­tro­duc­tion of a bill that was neg­a­tived dur­ing the same ses­sion. Un­for­tu­nately, par­lia­ment of Le­sotho has a sin­gle 5-yr ses­sion, where pro­ro­ga­tion re­mains a very valu­able tool with which to clean a slate for fresh start.

En­act­ment of a Whis­tle Blow­ers law could be an­other tele­scope through which to watch for cor­rup­tion. Post-Ten­der Brief­ings could be an­other ad­di­tion to test the re­sults of any com­pleted pub­lic ten­ders: has there been fair­ness, trans­parency, com­pet­i­tive­ness, value for money con­sid­er­a­tions etc? This could be done be­fore the award­ing of con­tracts. Cur­rently, ten­dency is for com­plaints to arise af­ter­wards and only draw some at­ten­tion to the just ended ten­der­ing.

An­other mat­ter of in­ter­est is whether a sin­gle PAC re­mains ad­e­quate to cope with the ever ex­pand­ing bu­reau­cracy, bud­get and ser­vice de­liver dic­tates of Le­sotho? Why do Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tees have to be many and have min­istries they over­see clus­tered? This ap­proach of many/dif­fer­ent com­mit­tees un­der­tak­ing the same role is an old idea in many par­lia­ments and is only a post-2004 re­form ef­fort in Le­sotho. Ide­ally, PACs could be three: one fo­cused on all min­istries, the other two re­spec­tive- ly deal with Lo­cal Author­i­ties and State En­ter­prises. This too re­mains a mat­ter of good SOs.

Ap­par­ently, Le­sotho did not join the 1999 founded African Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans’ Net­work Against Cor­rup­tion (APNAC). Why can Le­sotho not join now, as a na­tional Chap­ter? Ex­po­sure of MPs to how col­leagues else­where in Africa sol­dier on against cor­rup­tion would be an in­vest­ment in our MPs, not­with­stand­ing the dilemma of their high turnover as par­lia­ments re­place each other.

While the 10th Par­lia­ment is wished well, be­hind such wishes lurks a very dark cloud of doubts. The never end­ing po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity does not al­low enough time to think pos­i­tively and con­struc­tively about as­pects of good gov­er­nance. Politi­cians are more pre­oc­cu­pied with think­ing about pop­u­lar­ity con­tests.

Snap elec­tions are a good in­di­ca­tor of this; even when a change of govern­ment in the House is pos­si­ble con­sti­tu­tion­ally. No; we must seek a fresh man­date from the elec­torate. Dur­ing sit­tings of par­lia­ment, en­er­gies are fun­neled to con­sol­i­date power to stay on or to top­ple a sit­ting govern­ment.

Tar­gets ac­tu­ally stand side by side:

Will the 10th Parly last the five-year term? The amount of out­put as and when it ac­tu­ally ends will re­main the fo­cus. The Leg­is­la­ture and the Ex­ec­u­tive will be the fo­cus. En­act­ments which will pass will de­pend on how the ex­ec­u­tive makes use of its power of ini­tia­tive to ta­ble bills. That the Speech from the Throne made no spe­cific men­tion of bills to be seen through leaves a lot to be de­sired.

Pub­li­ca­tion of a leg­isla­tive pro­gram of any par­lia­ment ranks higher than any other com­mit­ments. Sim­i­larly, the es­tab­lish­ment of a fully func­tional min­istry of Par­lia­men­tary af­fairs would be an­other in­no­va­tion to add that miss­ing link whose man­date would be to en­sure full ac­count­abil­ity of the ex­ec­u­tive to par­lia­ment. Could dis­re­gard of such an agency, over such a long time since the nam­ing of that port­fo­lio, be de­lib­er­ate: prob­a­bly to evade/es­cape the re­quired ac­count­abil­ity and sus­tain a strong ex­ec­u­tive vis-à-vis a Leg­is­la­ture?

This wish for the best ac­tu­ally an­tic­i­pates high pro­duc­tiv­ity, at least in the con­test of the Speech from the Throne. Busi­ness as usual will ren­der it to be a wasted am­mu­ni­tion. And that would be sad.

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