Why the Law Society of Lesotho is challenging the constitutionality of laws passed by Parliament

Moeketsi Majoro.

MARY ALTAFFER / SWIMMING POOL / AFP

  • The Law Society of Lesotho is challenging laws passed by its parliament.
  • Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro hopes the post-election government will enforce the new laws.
  • Since the alleged coup attempts in 2014, Lesotho has been slow to deliver on the ‘Lesotho We Want’ roadmap.

The Law Society of Lesotho challenged the constitutionality of laws passed by Parliament when it was briefly summoned by King Letsie III a fortnight ago.

The Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2022 and the National Assembly Electoral Amendment Act were passed last Wednesday.

When the laws were passed, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro expressed his gratitude to all MPs for what he described as “a selfless commitment and dedication to enduring and overcoming their political differences”.

The country’s 10th parliament failed to pass the laws in its regular session, which ended on July 14.

According to the country’s constitution, parliament should be dissolved 90 days before the next general election, scheduled for October 7.

READ ALSO | Lesotho’s King Letsie III briefly summons parliament to pass two laws ahead of election

However, the electoral roadmap established by the European Union and SADC was that the two laws, essential for political reforms, should have been adopted before the general elections.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is the SADC facilitator in the political situation in Lesotho. He underscored the need for key reforms at the last heads of state summit in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, in mid-August.

As such, the only avenue available to Lesotho was for the King to reconvene Parliament.

However, he could not do so outside of a state of emergency, as dictated by the laws of the land.

Majoro declared a state of emergency on August 16. He hopes that the new laws will be respected by the next government after the elections.

“I sincerely call on the new government that will be formed after the October 7 general election to implement the bill to ensure a peaceful and stable government,” he said in a statement to News24.

Challenge by the Law Society of Lesotho

The Constitutional Court is yet to rule on the issues raised by media activist, Kananelo Boloetse, who challenged the state of emergency, and that of the Vice President of the Law Society of Lesotho, Lintle Tuke , who argued that King Letsie III had no legal mandate to reconvene Parliament.

This, however, has not stopped the bar from challenging laws passed before the election.

In their argument, they said the laws were unconstitutional because laws normally passed during a state of emergency, or the principle of a “state of necessity”, are not meant to change the Constitution.

Therefore, if Parliament sought to amend the Constitution, as it had done, it had to call a referendum or obtain input from the people of Lesotho.

Section 85(3) of the Constitution, the society argued, “peremptorily prescribes” that “a bill which amends” specific sections and part of the Constitution of Lesotho “shall not be submitted to the King for his assent” unless such bill had been “put to the vote of the electors” and “a majority of the electors voting approved the bill”.

Context of the reforms

In 2014, Lesotho became the hotbed of instability in the SADC region.

Then Prime Minister Tom Thabane alleged that there had been two coup attempts against his leadership. He fled to South Africa under his deputy, Mothetjoa Metsing.

But the SADC was under pressure to maintain democracy in the region and pushed for snap elections in February 2015.

After that, to put an end to the political instability, the consultative process “The Lesotho we want” was launched.

This initiative, through the National Reforms Authority (NRA), has provided a platform for the Basotho to contribute to the transformation of the Kingdom through sustained public conversations on reforms, national healing, reconciliation and restoring hope.

The NRA in April this year introduced the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution Bill of 2022.

But, in July, with the National Assembly electoral amendment law and five other bills, Parliament had still not adopted it.


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