Lesotho: Leaders Receive Draft National Reforms Authority Bill

The government has drafted the National Reforms Authority Bill aimed at creating an independent body to oversee the implementation of the multi-sector reforms that were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016.

Acting Law Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights minister Mokhele Moletsane this week presented the draft bill to government and opposition leaders who together comprise the National Leaders Forum in Maseru.

Among other things the bill seeks to establish the National Reforms Authority to "facilitate the national transformation of Lesotho to just, prosperous and stable society ... by building a national consensus for the implementation of constitutional reforms, parliamentary reforms, security sector reforms, judicial sector reforms, economic and media reforms".

The bill proposes that the National Reforms Authority will have a secretariat headed by the chief executive officer (CEO). The CEO will also be the chief accounting officer responsible for day to day administration of the authority.

The authority will operate independently of any person or authority to ensure transparency, rule of law and involvement of the entire nation in the reforms process.

It is envisaged that the authority's tenure will be for a year and during that time its secretariat will prepare quarterly progress reports and ultimately a final report for submission to the government, the official leader of opposition parties in parliament and the SADC facilitator (South African President Cyril Ramaphosa).

The lifespan of the authority may be extended by the minister (of Law Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights) for a further six months "or until such time the last (reforms) bill receives the Royal Assent, the rational being to enable the authority to complete its mandate".

Yesterday, the National Leaders Forum released a statement saying that bill will be presented to cabinet for approval before being submitted to parliament when the August house re-opens "on or before 9 August 2019".

The forum also said the second multi stakeholder national dialogue will be held from 16 to 18 September 2019.

Foreign Affairs and International Relations minister, Lesego Makgothi, has previously stated that the purpose of the national dialogue which brings together leaders of the governing and opposition parties and other stakeholders, will culminate in the formulation of the draft reform agenda.

The first national dialogue was held from 26 to 28 November 2018 and it was agreed that the next stage in the reforms process would be the inter-district consultations to ensure that Basotho of all backgrounds were afforded the opportunity to be part of the dialogue processes leading to the implementation of the reforms.

The month-long district consultations ended in April this year. Ahead of the second national dialogue, the National Leaders Forum this week said the National Dialogue Planning Committee should work with the government to ensure that experts are appointed on or before 2 August 2019 to draft reports "which would contain succinct options in the parliamentary, security sector, judicial, public sector, economic and media reforms".

The leaders expect the experts to have completed their work by 23 August 2019 and by 3 September 2019, the draft reports will be presented to the NDPC, the SADC facilitation team and the government.

Thereafter the National Leaders Forum will reconvene on 3 to 4 September 2019 to discuss the experts' draft reports ahead of the second national dialogue from 16 to 18 September 2019.

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