Fresh push to sabotage reforms

Fresh push to sabotage reforms
Fresh push to sabotage reforms

Africa-Press – Lesotho. THERE is a groundswell of legal fights to sabotage the national reforms as organisations and individuals file applications to roll back the recently passed constitutional amendments.
The latest volley that has thrown the reforms into doubt is an urgent application by the Law Society of Lesotho on Monday, seeking to nullify all the constitutional amendments that received the royal assent on August 29.
Before this application, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Lesotho) filed an urgent application seeking the nullification of the declaration of the state of emergency that subsequently led to the recalling of parliament and the passing of the amendments that underpin the reforms.
MISA-Lesotho argues that the decision to recall parliament was premised on a contrived state of emergency.
MISA-Lesotho’s legal action came on the heels of an application by local journalist and activist Kananelo Boloetse challenging Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s state of emergency.
Boloetse wants the High Court to declare the state of emergency unconstitutional, null and void.
This week the Law Society’s president, Advocate Tekane Maqakachane, asked the court to nullify all the Bills the king signed into law.
Advocate Maqakachane, by virtue of being the Law Society president, is a member of the Council of State that approved the state of emergency that paved the way for the King to recall parliament to pass the amendments.
In his affidavit, Advocate Maqakachane said the declaration of the state of emergency to pave the way for the king to recall parliament he had dissolved resulted from the international community’s pressure on the government.
He said Lesotho received “threats and intimidation by SADC and development partners” after parliament got dissolved before it could pass the national reforms.
“The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho’s only way out of the quagmire was to have the 10th Parliament recalled,” Advocate Maqakachane said.
Advocate Maqakachane argues that the two houses of parliament did not agree on the contents of the Omnibus Bill until the Lesotho Council of NGOs facilitated talks between them.
At the talks, he said, it was agreed that only the Omnibus Bill and the National Assembly Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2022 would be passed when the king recalled parliament.
He said all other bills that the king signed into law were unconstitutional because they were premised on the unlawful declaration of the state of emergency and the subsequent recalling of the dissolved parliament.
On the amendment of the constitution, Advocate Maqakachane said the constitution does not permit parliament to effect changes or reforms through the use of emergency powers.
“Constitutional re-making and re-designing reposes in the constituent authority of and exercise of popular sovereignty by the people of Lesotho,” he said.
“Parliament cannot do and achieve through the subterfuge of emergency powers used solely in exceptional circumstances, that which has nothing to do with the public emergency,” he said.
He said the passing of the laws could have been done “during the ordinary life and tenure of parliament”.
He argues that in terms of the constitution “a bill that alters specified sections and parts of the constitution of Lesotho shall not be submitted to the King for his assent unless that bill has been submitted to the vote of electors and the majority of electors voting have approved the bill”.
Apart from the Omnibus Bill that the king assented, Advocate Maqakachane is asking for the nullification of seven other Bills that have been enacted into law.
The Bills are the Millennium Challenge Account – Lesotho Authority (Winding Up and Repeal) Bill 2022, Specified Officers Defined Contribution Pensions Fund (Amendment) Bill 2022, Public Officers’ Defined Contribution Pension Fund (Amendment) Bill 2022, Harmonisation of the Rights of Customary Widows with Legal Capacity of Married Persons Bill 2022, Metolong Authority (Amendment) Bill 2022, and the National Assembly Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2022.
“Parliament failed to pass the aforesaid bills into law so as to be assented to by the King, during the wash-up period in July,” he said.

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