European Union Ambassador Christian Manahl says on-going multi-stakeholder reforms offer Lesotho a once-in-a-generation opportunity to solve its lingering political instability problem.
In a sombre speech delivered on Wednesday during Europe Day celebrations, Ambassador Manahl also said the reforms dialogue has made very good progress in a country whose politics had regressed from focusing on policy implementation to electoral competition.
Europe Day is celebrated in remembrance of the 1950 declaration of Robert Schuman which is considered a founding moment of European integration after the end of the Second World War.
The Europe Day celebration was held in the backdrop of a Lesotho working hard to implement a multi-stakeholder national reform process that shall reform the constitution, judiciary, parliament, public service, security sector, media and economy in an effort to find the country a long-lasting political and security stability.
Manahl said the EU has concluded partnership agreements with a wide range of countries around the world as well as with key multilateral institutions like the United Nations and the African Union and it stands for and promotes effective multilateralism, peaceful coexistence, a rule-based international order and the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and compromise.
He said since his tenure of office in Lesotho, he has discovered that Lesotho has great potential and daunting challenges.
He highlighted that the most important challenges faced by the mountain kingdom are “political stability and employment”.
“The two are linked to each other and repeated policy statement, expressed verbally by various ministers and enshrined in the National Strategic Development, NSDP II, underline the conviction that the main driver of economic development and job creation should be private and that the government should be a regulator and facilitator rather than a business operator”.
He further launched a blistering attack on Basotho politicians for spending too much time wrestling for political power.
“…public servants are too often selected or recruited for their political loyalty, and where they have no long- term security of tenure that would allow them to initiate and see through the implementation of polices, such a country will find it hard to stand its ground in a fiercely competitive global business environment,” said Manahl.
But, Manahl points that on-going reforms offer Lesotho an opportunity to solve its problems. “The reforms dialogue has made very good progress, the first plenary of multi-stakeholder dialogue has produced a wealth of good ideas.
“The series of popular consultations conducted in all corners of the kingdom is concluding these days.
“I am confident that that the National Dialogue Planning Committee will work hard, together with selected experts, to consolidate the wide range of opinions expressed in these consultations into concise and pertinent recommendations for adoption at the plenary which is planned for end of June.
“I trust that the second plenary will take courageous and far-reaching decisions,” he said.
Manahl, talking to political and social leaders and intellectual elites, said “you can now agree on reforms that will transform the political and economic dynamic of Lesotho, and open the way towards a brighter, a more stable, and a more prosperous future”.
He appealed to this political and social leaders and intellectual elites not to miss the chance offered by the reforms for the sake of the country and in particular young Basotho.
For his part, Foreign affairs and international relations Minister Lesego Makgothi commended massive and unwavering cooperation of Lesotho and EU.
He said Lesotho and EU shares a rich culture, history and traditions that are based on multilateralism and that upholds values befitting a modern society.
On the ongoing reforms, Makgothi said Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government is determined to fulfil its aspirations for the greater benefit of the people of Lesotho.
“We are mindful of the importance of acting timeously, and to the best our ability according to the road map with the involvement and participation of relevant stakeholders, as we do not want to leave anyone behind”.
“I can state here that we have made great progress, we are now on the second stage of the National dialogue which deals with National consultations, and so far, the process is going as anticipated.
“We are optimistic that recommendations that will emanate from this important process will yield our country expected results. The government is now past the stag of blame game. “We want to leave a legacy that all Basotho will be proud of; that of government that took action amidst all the challenges of operating within a highly politicised atmosphere and having inherited a myriad of governance challenges in the institutions in question,” said Magothi.