DPE FIGHTS FOR INCLUSIVITY IN THE LESOTHO REFORMS PROCESS
By DPE Communications
Though Development for Peace Education (DPE) has scored a spectacular goal by petitioning the National Assembly against the passing National Reforms Bill 2018, many are interested in what was it all about, did it warrant such an effort, did all that trouble pay off and certainly what is the next move?
The night of 16th and the morning of 17th January 2018 were no ordinary for (DPE) Peace Education Researchers as it became public knowledge that upon resumption of parliament on the 17th National Assembly would embark on the Reforms Commission Bill. Surprising was why a Bill yet the preparations for the government led multi-stakeholder conference were afoot. Suspicious and detrimental to the inclusive, participatory and credible reforms process not as only championed by DPE but as envisaged by civil society as a collective and indeed endorsed by a wide range of actors inclusive of but not limited to political parties. DPE and the secretariat of Lesotho Council of NGOs did all to show leading ministers in the reforms process that the government approach is not acceptable and should be reversed if the intention is to have a credible process. Further advocacy measures were DPE petition to the National Assembly, LCN letter to the Prime Minister and the media campaign. In response to this pressure the government backtracked and decided that the bill will only be tabled and referred to relevant parliament portfolio committees. This in turn will create space for common people and all other stakeholder to bring inputs that will make up the bill.
The introduction of the Bill came at the time when government drafted roadmap has been circulated to various stakeholders for commentary. DPE received the document as well and in its internal deliberations noted that the crafting of National Reforms Framework and Roadmap contain a detail that renders the whole document premature and therefore forestalling dialogue and engagement. Through this ‘framework’ the government seemed to be affording itself a leading position and unilaterally determining how the reform process should unfold which may not necessarily be wrong in terms of the content but the process. While DPE is not against government holding a specific position in so far as reform agenda is concerned, DPE contended that this is not the right time to ‘publish’ government position on reforms because in so doing ,the entire process is thus defined in terms of government stance and as such inclusivity narrowed and compromised. DPE thus recommended that there be swift efforts to convene National Multi stakeholder Dialogue wherein all stakeholders will have an inclusive and participatory conversation and agree on all issues to be addressed by the reform agenda.
At the meeting of Democracy and Human Rights Commission of Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (LCN) which DPE attended CSOs made input on the roadmap later submitted to the government. Civil society input;
- Commented government for the call for stakeholder commentary on the roadmap;
- Critiqued the contents of the roadmap in particular in the definition of the problem on the various components of reforms and identification of reforms areas. This is viewed as foreclosing debate that is otherwise a subject of national multi stakeholders forum;
- Called upon the government to provide audience on these views.
DPE is the only organisation that has kept citizens dialogue on reforms since 2014 and the only one which has been to all 80 constituencies facilitating citizens dialogue on what needs to be changed, improved or introduced. The organisation has a citizens’ voices report from the Lesotho I Want campaign that ran through the whole country. DPE has been at the helm of efforts to ensure that reforms process becomes enabling so that these voices eventually form part of deliberations.