MASERU — Three political parties that formed a coalition government last year yesterday unveiled the agreement that spurred the formation of the government last June.
This is the first time that the document has been available in the public domain.
Titled, Agreement to form a Coalition Government of Political Parties (Subsequent to the May 26 2012 National Election, the document was signed by leaders of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Basotho National Party (BNP) namely Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane.
The document was officially presented to the media yesterday at a briefing hosted by the three coalition leaders at the State Library in Maseru.
The parties agreed to “fully engage with each other in formulating and discussing motions and/or Bills for the National Assembly”.
“Parties and their members in the National Assembly agree to always vote in unison to any proposed motion and/or Bill in the National Assembly,” the agreement says.
“Parties and their members in the National Assembly agree to vote together and in unison on the election and/or appointment of any member of parliamentary committee/s including on international parliamentary committees.”
They also agree to form an inclusive government that “fairly and adequately attempts to incorporate policies of all parties”.
They also agreed that in the event of change in the proportionality of seats “the leadership shall also change accordingly”.
“The parties agree that the leader of the coalition, following the proper procedures laid out in the 1993 Constitution of Lesotho shall be the prime minister while the deputy leader shall become deputy prime minister,” the agreement says.
In addition, the agreement makes provision for a clause giving parties the liberty to disagree on issues “be it publicly or in parliament”.
“Parties agree that the “agree to disagree” provision will apply where necessary and such circumstance each party will be free to express alternative views publicly and in parliament,” the agreement says.
Yesterday Metsing was at pains to appeal to media not to misinterpret the clause to mean that disagreements could “lead to the collapse of the coalition government”.
“Yes we do have the “agree to disagree” clause, but it should not be misconstrued to mean anything else. It means that despite our differences in opinion, government will continue to implement policies,” Metsing said.
The agreement also proposes the establishment of a Joint Monitoring and Implementation Policy (JMIC) “to be composed of two members of each party” with the chairman appointed from amongst these members.
“The committee’s functions shall be to implement the spirit of the document, monitor and asses its implementation and consider steps which might need to be taken to ensure quick its quick and speedy implementation in its entirety,” the agreement says.
“The committee will also create and promote an atmosphere of mutual trust, transparency and understanding amongst parties, identify breaking issues and trends and assess their potential impact on the coalition government.”
The coalition agreement further makes provision for dispute resolution mechanisms “for the settlement of disputes”.
“Any dispute within the coalition arising out of the application or interpretation of the provisions of this agreement shall be referred to the JIMC for settlement,” the agreement reads.
“Should settlement fail, the committee shall refer the matter to a mediator agreed and appointed by the parties.
Where mediation and conciliation have failed, the document continues, a deadlock shall be deemed to have come into existence, in which case the parties shall have to decide on the future of the coalition.
The agreement further adds that the government is of an inclusive nature which fairly and adequately attempts to incorporate policies of all parties, operate on a good faith and no surprise basis while at the same time protecting the autonomy of parties.
“The parties will work in good faith to further the objectives set out in this agreement while accepting the need for distinctive party political identities within government,” the agreement says.