Le­sotho’s democ­racy zigzags along

Lesotho Times - - Leader - makha­bane maluke

WORDS may en­cour­age, em­bar­rass or an­noy. Me­dia may con­vey valu­able or un­pop­u­lar mes­sages. Ar­ti­cles I penned un­til now will se­lec­tively be se­ri­alised to re­late them with what goes on in Le­sotho; its po­lit­i­cal his­tory re­peats it­self end­lessly. This is done just to sell ideas, to en­cour­age con­struc­tive think­ing and a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude on na­tional is­sues. The pur­pose is not to blame or point a fin­ger. The for­mat of each se­ries will be: Date of each ar­ti­cle; ti­tle used; an ex­tract from each and how it re­lates to the pre­sent/fu­ture events:

A- JAN. 17, 2014: “Con­stituen­cies de­ter­mine voter turnout” Basotho are not po­lit­i­cally ap­a­thetic… An ap­a­thetic pop­u­la­tion does not care who gets elected and how he rules.

Basotho care. Some trend may be traced from 1993 to the pre­sent era of coali­tion rule. Vot­ing pat­terns in some con­stituen­cies change with cir­cum­stances of each elec­tion. Num­bers of votes re­flect the pre­vail­ing public opin­ion(s). This poses a chal­lenge to both the IEC and the gov­ern­ment. Polling sta­tions have to be clos­est pos­si­ble to set­tle­ments; par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral ar­eas and mi­grant vot­ers in South Africa (where reg­is­tra­tion of vot­ers is at times de­cen­tral­ized to. In the 2017 elec­tion, only one voter came from Car­letonville gold­fields, at a cost of R500, to cast a sin­gle vote at Molu­mong polling sta­tion, while col­leagues, this time, only gave him en­cour­age­ment to mo­biles those at home to vote wisely).

Gov­ern­ment has to en­sure easy ac­cess to vil­lages for swift shut­tle to cast votes and re­turn to dis­tant work places. Lo­cally or­ga­nized con­veyance of the el­derly/weak: some no longer at­tend church ser­vices and have holy sacra­ment brought to their homes. There are those vot­ers who send their rel­a­tives to re­ceive their monthly old age pen­sions. Pro­vi­sion of vol­un­tary trans­port should not be an of­fence. Such in­firm vot­ers have to be back home in time. Oth­er­wise vot­ing by proxy could be an­other way to en­sure high turnout.

Qual­ity of the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion in­put may be an­other con­tribut­ing fac­tor to num­bers which ac­tu­ally vote. A num­ber of Bo­batsi #80 DC voter card car­ry­ing mem­bers were turned away in 2015 be­cause their names did not show in the fi­nal vot­ers lists at their polling sta­tions. A sep­a­rate ar­ti­cle will be fea­tured, de­tail­ing how at three other polling sta­tions where the fi­nal lists were amended in the late af­ter­noon on polling day, 28-2-2015, through de­liv­ery of ad­di­tional lists/names from the Dis­trict Elec­toral Of­fi­cer, re­sult­ing in vot­ing con­tin­u­ing into the night at one polling sta­tion and vot­ing con­tin­u­ing on the sec­ond day (1st March,2015) at an­other. A com­plaints Form on this and other al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties was never re­sponded to.

Re-con­sid­er­a­tion of vot­ing as a sin­gle day event could prob­a­bly be more re­ward­ing as Le­sotho is un­like the UK, USA or France. There are sea­sons when herd boys and live­stock farm­ers have to be at cat­tle posts and have to be re­leased by those who have voted.

The 85% es­ti­mated turnout for the 3 June elec­tion was only a good wish. With­out a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment, turnout will al­ways be within the lim­i­ta­tion and en­dow­ment of re­spec­tive con­stituen­cies.

B. FEB.13 2014 : “Coali­tion shoot­ing in the dark” “The kind of op­po­si­tion which Le­sotho cur­rently [8th Parly] has is a re­source [to par­lia­ment]… which could not desta­bi­lize the gov­ern­ment and op­poses con­struc­tively…” :

A siz­able num­ber of for­mer 8th Par­lia­ment MPS, i.e. the then op­po­si­tion, are back in the 10th Par­lia­ment; ex­cept be­ing in dif­fer­ent camps be­cause of in­tra-party con­flicts which re­gret­tably spilled over into par­lia­ment. Ei­ther by de­sign or de­fault, the for­mer Speaker of the 8th Par­lia­ment is also back in the sad­dle of the 10th Par­lia­ment which has more po­lit­i­cal par­ties than any other be­fore it. How the House of this com­po­si­tion will fare re­mains to be seen. Wish and hope be­ing that this 10th term should not re­mind the na­tion of the 8th and 9th Par­lia­ments; God will­ing!

C. MAR. 23 2014: “Le­sotho must stop danc­ing the polka!” “Par­lia­ments… have mod­ern­ized…. In some pro­gres­sive demo­cratic par­lia­ments, a Speaker from the ma­jor­ity party is dep­u­tized by an MP from the op­po­si­tion.”

While ex­am­ples of West­min­ster type par­lia­ments can be counted, some of them have out—grown that tra­di­tional model to suit their unique po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ments. Can it be con­fi­dently said that the Speaker of the 10th Par­lia­ment is not a mem­ber of any of the four rul­ing coali­tion par­ties? If yes, that would be a won­der­ful dis­play of a be­gin­ning to grow out of the old ways e.g. that at the con­trols should be one of our own. An­other ex­pec­ta­tion is that at some stage, in­vi­ta­tion of any in­ter­ested and qual­i­fied per­sons should be en­dorsed by a num­ber of MPS to con­test to be Speaker with all MPS be­ing availed their CVS. That would be a con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment.

The in­no­va­tion to have the op­po­si­tion to dep­u­tize could be a mat­ter for good Stand­ing Or­ders (SOS): to rec­og­nize the es­sen­tial role of the op­po­si­tion, and to for­mally em­power it. This would en­able an oth­er­wise tra­di­tion­ally hos­tile op­po­si­tion (Congress vs Na­tion­al­ists) to de­velop a feel of be­long­ing and adopt a “Loyal op­po­si­tion” at­ti­tude as a gov­ern­ment in wait­ing. The rel­e­vant Stand­ing Or­der could be worded to pro­vide for the dis­charge/re­place­ment of such a deputy through a mo­tion, in the event of need.

This could fur­ther ex­tend to com­mit­tees. Presently, SOS do not even pro­vide for Deputy Chair­per­sons. There may have been good rea­sons for that; but times have changed and old prac­tices have to give way. The Speaker be­comes Chair­per­son when­ever the House goes into com­mit­tee and has to re­vert to be Speaker when the House re­sumes, to re­ceive a re­port from a com­mit­tee he/she chaired.

Con­tin­ues on Page 16 . . .

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.