â€¦as govâ€™t engages Council of State
The government is in constant deliberations with the council of State, in a desperate move to revive the 10th Parliament which was dissolved by order of His Majesty King Lestie III last week at the expiration of its five-year tenure spanning July 14, 2017 through July 13, 2022, in a bid to complete the adoption of the 11th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2022.
The Bill entails the protracted national reforms agenda which has been going on for over five years.
Advocate Rakuoane Lekhetho the Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs told this publication yesterday that the government is exchanging statements with the Council of State which is vested with powers to advise His Majesty on such matters, and this case, to recall the dissolved Parliament.
The life of the 10th parliament became obsolete at midnight on July 13 this year and with the National Assembly pacing against time, failed to pass the reforms that knocked at the door at the eleventh hour before the parliament tenure expired.
This follows His Majestyâ€™s Legal Notice No.61 of 2022 dated July 13, 2022 mandated to dissolve Parliament which states â€œI King Letsie III, pursuant to section 83 (2) of the Constitution of Lesotho, proclaim that the tenth Parliament of Lesotho shall stand dissolved on the 14th July, 2022.â€
The deliberations between government and the Council of State are in line with a resolve by the former members of the National Assembly who had, upon expiration of their tenure, pushed the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro to evoke Section 84 of the Constitution to urge the Council to advise The King to resurrect Parliament.
Reads Section 84: â€œIf, 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 daysâ€.
Following the lapse of time and term of the 10th Parliament, the following day Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro issued a legal instrument Declaration of National State of Disaster Notice Number 62 of 2022 dated 11 July 2022, which shall be deemed to have come into effect for the period spanning February 17 to August 16, 2022.
But Rakuoane is upbeat the consultations with the Council of State will produce fruitful deliberations towards the recalling of parliament to finish up the reforms bill.
â€œWe are trying to recall parliament in order to finish the 11th Constitutional amendment Bill. It is the governmentâ€™s responsibility to ensure that the Bill passes and the parliament in this situation has to be recalled.
â€œWe are now exchanging statements with Council of States as it is authorized by law to advice His Majesty to recall the parliament. We have not finalized our discussion with the council and hopefully next week things will be official,â€ he said.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP) in an interview with Newsday last week, saying that there was need to recall parliament to avert a potential crisis.
â€œIt would be a disaster if we go to elections with a situation like this.
â€œThe solution would be that the government consider declaring a state of emergency in order to recall the parliament and give it at least two to three days,â€ Mofomobe said.
In the same spirit, opposition Alliance for Democrats (AD) spokesperson Thuso Litjobo stated that the government was supposed to look for a legal provision that will enable His Majesty to recall the parliament.
â€œAt this time the government has to peruse for a legal provision and find a clause that will enable them to recall the parliament in order for the bill to pass. They have to declare a state of emergency so that parliament can be reconvened.
â€œThey have to consult people like the Attorney General for counsel in what to do because we have to go to the elections having passed that Bill,â€ he said.
However, the Attorney General Advocate Rapelang Motsieloa washed his hands off the issue, stating that he has nothing to do with the recalling of parliament since that task is by law the preserve of the Council of State to advice His Majesty King Letsie III.
â€œAll these questions I canâ€™t provide answers to, my role is simply to advice the government only when I have been asked to do so, not always, so right now I have not been asked to provide any legal counsel,â€ Motsieloa said adding that the Declaration of National State of Disaster Notice inked by the Prime Minister last week has nothing to do with recalling the parliament.
On the other hand, President of Law Society, advocate Tekane Maqakachane speaking in his personal capacity, came down heavily on the whole issue citing that the period of reforms has lapsed, thus the reforms should wait for the next Parliament which will be elected after the general elections penned for October 7, 2022.
â€œAs a citizen of this country, my comment is that there currently is nothing like State of Emergency.
â€œThe parliament has been there for five years and it would have been extended if there was war, but in this case there has never been any war in the country, even now we donâ€™t have war, so why should we recall people who failed to do their job on time?â€ he asked.
Asked if the constitutional Bill would not have impact on the coming General Elections, so much that it befit to recall parliament, he said the reforms are not a State of Emergency.
â€œReforms are not a problem that would put the country at stake or the citizens at peril. The matter of reform has been discussed since 2012.
â€œThe 2015 regime collapsed without implementing the reforms until 2017 when this government took over and wasted their five-year period trying to implement the reforms, now they want to be extended more time,â€ he said adding that the members want to return only to satisfy their interests.
â€œThe curious question is whether they want extension to work on reforms or they want to satisfy their own interests as parliament. They do not have good faith at passing the reforms but only to secure their interests because reforms are not parliament business but that of the nation.
â€œRight now the reforms are dead and it is the truth we have to accept, they have failedâ€¦â€ he said.