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20 constituencies to be chopped?

Business

Mohloai Mpesi

20 constituencies are likely to be rubbed-off the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s roll for the next coming elections.

This is according to the National Reforms Authority (NRA)’s expedition to incorporate about 30% of disadvantaged groups’ representatives in Parliament as per a truce made by Lesotho per the Maputo Declaration 2008 to Southern African Development Committee (SADC) and African Union (AU) to include 30% of women in Parliament.      

According to the NRA’s Chairman Chief Pelele Letsoela, the initiative is a directive from the Multi-Stakeholder National Dialogue Plenary II Report that NRA should ensure that the Disadvantaged Groups like Women, Disabled people and the Youths are adequately represented in the National Assembly.

“The Authority saw it fit to increase the number of Proportional Representative (PR) seats and reduce those of constituencies after all; Lesotho made a treaty during the Maputo Declaration 2008 to SADC and African Union to include 30% of women in Parliament and that will increase to 50% when time goes,” Letsoela said.

He said a number will be derived by chopping off other constituencies from 80 to 60 in order to arrange the other 60 seats for PR in order to create a situation where the numbers of disadvantaged groups’ representatives would increase.

“The matter of 50:50 was unfortunate during the Interim Political Authority (IPA), if only the parliamentarians of that time were merciful enough, that problem could have long been solved. Women protested during the second Plenary that they want 100% PR that they should be equal to men in parliament with numbers but there was no one to speak on their behalf in that forum.

“NRA realised that it would not be achieved without chopping other constituencies to 60 instead of 80 constituency seats and add MMP seats to make 60, this will enable women to get the seats in parliament,” he said.

“On the Electoral Mode, the plenary II made a decision that we should continue with the Mixed Member Proportion model, it was recommended that we go to the old method of elections where the two papers were used, and that during the allocation of seats in parliament, only political parties which score a certain number of votes should be given the seats during the PR allocation of seats.

“The last one is that the PR seats should be allocated after the elections basing ourselves on how many votes one has scored.

“That will make things easy for Equitable Distribution of Resources because councillors will be dealing with a large group of people unlike now when they have a manageable size of people. The issue of 60 constituencies is not new as Lesotho had the same size in 1965 and nothing has changed except the improved roads and the increased population,” he said.

He said the process of indorsing the law has been packaged in an Omnibus Bill which has already been handed down to the Attorney General’s desk for corrections and authorisation before it can pass to the National Assembly for adoption.

This also came as part of the Authority’s mandate to reconstruct the existing laws in order to find everlasting peace and stability in the country. Letsoela said as they were perusing through the Parliamentary Affairs, they took a deliberate decision regarding the notion of no confidence to the sitting Prime Minster, that he be dethroned by a 2/3 majority of the house.   

“The parliament will be able to hire people without being under government, all these will be happening under the established Parliamentary Service Commission document.

He said the NRA has completed the first phase of adopting 33 proposed alterations in the National Constitution (33) which he said are contained in an Omnibus Bill that has been handed to the Attorney General (AG) by the NRA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to examine and give it a certificate that would enable it to pass to parliament.

“When the Attorney General has finished with the Bill, it will be handed to the Chairman of the NRA who will give it to the Minister of Law and Justice to present it in the Parliament,” he said.

He further indicated that they have a quest to establish a committee that will look into a far-reaching employment strategy to advise the King about the appointment of judges in an effort to rescue courts from political influence.

“There will be a top appeal court which will look into appeal cases of constitution. The court will be presided by the Chief Justice. There will be three high courts in the country in a bid to bring courts close to the public and they will be under the supervision of president judges,” he said.

The NRA held the 14th NRA Plenary Meeting at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre from September 27, to October 1, 2021, where chairpersons from different committees presented the second phase of the changes made in the national constitution.

According to Letsoela, there were 28 changes made whereby 26 were adopted by the forum and the remaining two were returned to their committees to rectify and consider the recommendations made by the forum, where eighteen is Judiciary and seven Parliamentary Affairs.

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