Delegation of the European Union to Gabon, Sao Tomé-et-Principe and CEEAC

Remarks by European Union Ambassador Christian Manahl at the Sectoral Consultations on Reforms in Lesotho

Maseru, 22/07/2019 - 16:59, UNIQUE ID: 190722_14
Speeches of the Ambassador

Speech by European Union Ambassador Christian Manahl at the Sectoral Consultations on Reforms organised by the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) held at the Manthabiseng Convention Centre.


            We are gathered here today and in the coming days for sectoral consultations in the framework of the national reforms dialogue. This is another milestone on a journey which has its origins in the reforms pledge signed by all political parties before the elections two years ago, and which kicked off with the consultative forum organized by civil society in October 2017. It has been a long journey with setbacks and detours, but it has produced a wealth of ideas and proposals about the reforms necessary to achieve "the Lesotho you want".

            With these sectoral consultations, the dialogue now reaches the home stretch. The home stretch, as you perhaps know, is an expression from sports, it refers to the last 100 meters before a marathon runner reaches the finishing line. And it is usually the hardest and most competitive part of the run, when the runners put in the last bit of energy they have left.

            I encourage you all to do the same, not in the sense of competing with each other, because this is not a competitive exercise, but in the sense of giving your best in order to narrow down on key reforms decisions for the second plenary of the multi-stakeholder national dialogue, which is scheduled for mid-September.

            The National Leaders Forum will decide at the end of this month about the composition and mandate of the national reforms authority, based on the agreement signed on 4th July and witnessed by SADC Facilitator, President Ramaphosa. The National Dialogue Planning Committee, with the assistance of a group of experts, will analyse the outcome of the discussions during the first plenary, during the consultations in all the districts, with the diaspora, and during the sectoral consultations which start today. They will summarize and condense all these discussions into a report and a set of recommendations for consideration and adoption by the second plenary. I encourage the NDPC to undertake this work in coming weeks in full transparency and to inform the citizens of Lesotho of every step in the process, because this a matter of national interest that every citizens should have the possibility to follow. I encourage all the journalists present here to hold the NDPC to account on every step on their final work. While the work of analysing and drafting will be done by experts, under the supervision of the NDPC, the content of the reforms belongs to all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen,

            The events of the last couple of months should have convinced everybody of the need for political reforms in Lesotho, if there was still any doubt.

  • Lesotho needs sound, stable and professional institutions, which respect each other's independence.
  • Lesotho needs effective checks and balances which guarantee that those entrusted with public offices are held accountable to the people whom they serve.
  • Lesotho needs strong and properly resourced oversight institutions to effectively fight corruption.
  • Lesotho needs an effective, efficient, apolitical and affordable civil service.
  • Lesotho needs a parliamentary system that allows coalition governments to complete the full legislative term.
  • Lesotho needs political parties which follow democratic practices and processes, and which allow for constructive debates on how the country should be governed, and on which values need to be cultivated and respected in order to reconcile tradition with the challenges of the modern world.

But it is not only about laws, institutions and processes, as important as they are. It is also about a political culture

  • where debates are focused on policies rather than personalities;
  • where constructive criticism and differing opinions are appreciated as necessary ingredients of a democratic debate;
  • where commitments are respected and political relationships are based on trust;
  • where political, social and economic conflicts, which have always been and will always be part of human society, are solved through dialogue and compromise;
  • where the need for justice and retribution is mitigated by pardon and reconciliation;
  • and where there is an unshakeable consensus among all political parties that violence, or the threat of violence, is totally inacceptable to settle political disagreements, and where such violence is promptly and properly sanctioned.

            Creating and safeguarding such a political culture is never easy, and it is a responsibility of each and every one. In Europe, people may have thought that this has been achieved for good after the Second World War, but we are now struggling to protect these principles and values against a new wave of populism and authoritarianism. This shows us that no matter how sophisticated and well-established political institutions may be, democratic values and practices will not survive if they are not backed by a strong and persistent commitment of all citizens.

Ladies and gentlemen,

            These sectoral consultations are another important opportunity to hear the voices of a broad range of social and economic actors and to test their views on the reforms process. It is probably the last formal opportunity of this kind before the second plenary of the multi-stakeholder national dialogue. I encourage you to take this very seriously and to avoid getting diverted by the ongoing political dynamics. The reforms are of the utmost importance for the future of the Kingdom of Lesotho. They are not reforms of politicians; they are the reforms of all of you, and only if they are carried forward by everybody will they be able to create the Lesotho you want.


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