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Consensus reached to open parly


Mohloai Mpesi

Prime Minister Dr. Moeketsi Majoro has been tasked with duty of advising His Majesty King Letsie III to open parliament.

This decision was reached last week during consensus meeting held at Avani Maseru.

The members of the National Assembly, the Senate and the National Authority (NRA) were summoned under one roof to discuss matters surrounding the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitutional Bill which parliament failed to pass until its term lapsed on July 14, 2022.

This came after lengthy tiffs between the two-houses of parliament, where the upper house directed the lower house to reinstate the clauses which the parliamentarians sickled in the Omnibus Bill, but the National Assembly could not have it and proceeded to cut almost seven clauses before their time lapsed at the wee hours of July 13.         

The matter sparked a lot of debate and controversy from the two houses such that the National Assembly members on their defense saying they are not rubber stamps.   

The Omnibus Bill contains the protracted national reforms agenda which has been going on for over five years.

The Executive Director of Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), Seabata Motsamai, confirmed to this publication after the meeting, a decision of recalling parliament was reached.

“Before coming into the workshop we gathered the Senate members and some influential political parties in the National Assembly and they all concurred that there is a need to recall parliament after picking out challenges that might rise in the absence of the amendments,” he explained.

He added, “So, should the parliament be recalled, each house will take not more than 4 hours working on the Bill.”

He clarified that their main focus was to look at what Senate had already done in the Omnibus Bill and work towards a common agreement as to which clauses should be passed.

“We did a lot of work on the Bill although at some point, there were disagreements whereby the National Assembly could not have it unless certain points are cleared.”

Motsamai pointed out that there was not much left to work on, on the Bill, as they took lengthy time to discuss it, thus both houses will have to consider deliberations that came out of the meeting.

A member of parliament, Honourable Kimetso Mathaba also confirmed that they finally came to agreement that the Prime Minister should advice his Majesty King Letsie III to reinstate parley.

He cited that the parliament can be recalled under Section 84 of the Constitution because failure to pass the Omnibus Bill will result in challenges, some directly threatening the upcoming elections, however, remedies are carried in the Bill.

He said the decision was to invoke State of Emergency clause of the constitution to allow the PM to advice the King.

The section reads that, “If, after dissolution of Parliament and before holding of general elections of members of National Assembly, the King is advised by the Council of State that, owing to a state of war or of a state of emergency in Lesotho. It is necessary to recall parliament…

…The King shall recall the parliament that has been dissolved and that Parliament shall be deemed to be the Parliament for the time being (and the members of the dissolved Parliament shall be deemed to be the members of the recalled Parliament), but general elections of members of the National Assembly shall proceed and the recalled Parliament shall, if not sooner dissolved, stand dissolved on the day immediately preceding the day fixed for such general election or , if more than one such day, the first of such days,” the section reads.

Mathaba said the bid qualifies to be called emergency since the international funders may decline to assist with finances which may drive the country into financial crises.

“The consensus was mainly on the amendments from the NRA to deliberate on which clauses to carry through. We did almost 90% of the work and agreed on certain clauses while some we did not carry them through.

“We agreed that it is important to recall parliament because those amendments in the NRA are crucial to help us during the elections. The matter is now with the Prime Minister and he will advise His Majesty to recall the parliament.

“Some of the clauses in the Omnibus Bill will guide us during and after the elections such as two thirds majority. We cannot proceed without them,” he said.

He added that another reason to recall parliament was the fact that the house failed to pass the Bill during its term until its period lapsed so the investors and those countries helping Lesotho with budget support do want parliament to pass the reforms, and if they fail, then the international community will refrain from helping Lesotho.

“How would we run the government without budget assistance from the international community?

“That reason is enough to be called State of Emergency because the elections will be at peril and we are going to meet a lot of problems in the absence of the Bill. The state will also lose financial support from funders,” he said.

His words fell in line with the Minister of Law and Justice Lekhetho Rakuoane who indicated that they have agreed to recall parliament under the umbrella of State of Emergency. He said the Cabinet has already written to Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to advice his Majesty.

“It is only a matter of time until the Prime Minister makes an announcement to advice the King. We have already delivered the letter requesting him to advice His Majesty.

“The discussion of the meeting was about recalling the parliament and more on the clauses inside the Bill because we had to agree on them as some are going to play an integral part in the elections,” he said. 

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