Transformation Resource Centre through the Public Participation and Parliamentary Affairs unit facilitated an activity on the 15 and 16 August 2018 aimed at building institutional development of political parties to strengthen parliamentary democracy. The activity was divided into two sessions. On the first day there was a keynote address and presentation by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Honourable Teboho Lehloenya who addressed the following issues:
- Proper Management of political parties in a democracy
- The effect that political parties’ internal instability have in parliament
- how the weakness of political parties affect the life of parliament and
- to inquire if the political parties are fit for the purpose for which they are established
Professor Motlamelle Kapa from the academia (National University of Lesotho) carried out a research for TRC on the Proliferation of Political Parties in Lesotho. The Professor therefore presented the findings that were made in his research and engaged the participants on the discussion. The session enabled a dialogue where participants identified issues within their political parties which they believe led to political party splits. Later, Dr Victor Shale made a presentation on the political party programs that could help strengthen internal democracy and reduce conflicts.
During the second session, Adv. Maqakachane, President of Law Society Lesotho made a presentation of a comparative study that has been made on how other countries who have a political parties act carry out their business in regard to the administration of political parties. The aim here is to conscientize the participants about the importance of having clear systems in place such as good laws and legislation.
Adv. Mamosebi Pholo representing the electoral body (IEC) made a presentation on the accountability and compliance of political parties. The aim was to capacitate political parties and show them the importance of compliance so that they remain in good standing with this body for them not to be de-registered.
All these presentations and discussions helped build a consensus among stakeholders that there is a need for Political Parties Act that would provide for the administration, development and regulate political parties to promote integrity of their operations.
The Transformation Resource Centre facilitated an Inter-Institutional Security Consultative Session which is a Dialogue for Turning National Security Establishments into Human Rights Protection Vanguards at Manthabiseng Convention Centre (National Convention Centre) on the 31st May 2018. The purpose of the dialogue was to provide a platform for senior officers of security institutions namely; Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS), Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) and National Security Service (NSS), to identify areas of concerns in their respective institutions which constrain their mandate in the protection of human rights. The concerns identified during the dialogue will inform the reform agenda steered by the government. It is expected that issues raised will be deliberated upon and possible solutions and propositions will be taken in to a broader national reform project. The final product of the dialogue shall be produced into a report, and form agenda for a multi-stakeholders national reforms on the security sector. The national -dialogue session attracted senior management of the LDF, LMPS, LCS and NSS as well as SADC representative on security issues, European Union Head of Delegation, US Embassy, United Nations Representatives, Steering Committee comprising representatives of NGOs, Business sector, government and political parties.
Transformation Resource Centre through its advocacy for socio and economic justice intervened in the conflicts between Kolo community and RASKOL Diamond mining company. These conflicts and concerns came about after the mine illegally extended an additional area to the initial area it had been allocated a license to trial mine by the ministry of Mining in Lesotho. Community concerns included the negligence of the mine to resettle people affected by the mine, water distribution that the mine has cut off, burial sites affected, compensation of affected properties, dumping area that is closely located to the community, restricted employment opportunities and the mine’s reluctance to involve or consult communities in the decisions that affect them. The Centre however, assessed the environmental conditions and monitored issues of compliance with environmental agreements. The Centre enabled constructive engagement of stakeholders for effective resolution of issues. Further meetings will be facilitated in dates that will be communicated. Among the stakeholders at the meeting at Ha Petlane in Kolo were the Ministry of Mining, Local Government, Tourism, Environment and Culture, the Mafeteng District Administrator office, Ntlafalang Consultancy and the community.
Transformation Resource Centre (TRC)’s work is to strengthen good governance and human rights protection in Lesotho. The Centre through its advocacy of the establishment of human rights commission facilitated a pre- national dialogue on the security reforms. Main focus institutions were the Lesotho Correctional Services, Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) and National Security Services (NSS) of which they identified areas of concern in their respective institutions. Among the stakeholders invited were the EU Ambassador, US Ambassador, SAPMIL, civil society organizations and senior officials from the security institutions in Lesotho. The dialogue deliberated upon possible solutions and strategies the stakeholders proposed in order to strengthen the structures, appointments, mandate and integrity of these entities to ensure that they fulfill the objective of their establishments. This effort was made to ensure that Lesotho Security Forces are transformed into trustworthy entities that respect, promote and protect human rights effectively without being implicated in human rights abuses.
The dialogue was a reflection of the general security and human rights violations issues in the country and paved way for the envisioned security and human rights vanguards institutions post the reforms. Meaningful contributions were made which pointed the direction which the country must take as part of the national reforms agenda. It was deliberated that
- There is need to identify the responsibilities of the security forces. This will help solve the manipulation of these institutions by politicians and address the underlying issues.
- Experts’ views who will play a significant role should be informed by the citizen opinions and aspirations.
- The country needs to interrogate the problems caused by security agencies and the perpetual human rights violations. Do security agencies understand human rights? What actions are taken by the state where there are human rights violations?
- We also need to address the shared mandates of the security agencies and better define them. There should be clear lines of demarcation between the agencies.
- Politics have played a critical role in getting the country where it is, especially in the appointment of heads of security agencies. Appointment and removal of the heads of these agencies should be free of political influence.
- The civil service is politicized and so are the security agencies. At times members of these institutions are recruited from the constituency level. There should be guidelines for recruitment and it should be free from political influence.
- Human rights violations should be interrogated with an inclusive eye so that even the rights of members of these institutions are protected. The principle of universality of rights should be applied.
- Consideration of the role of civil society organizations in the security sector reforms as they are perceived as neutral and non-political actors
- Real reforms of the correctional services and their institutions, including the training and the working environment, should form part of the reforms
The International partners further pledged to assist and support the country in its reform agenda. However, the process should be inclusive, transparent and participatory. So it is very important to address the rights issues. But the issue of human rights should not be politicized to avoid international stakeholders using the issue as a reason for withdrawing their support for the processes. Lesotho needs to develop a culture of human rights.
The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) holds a press conference at Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) hall to inform the public about the temporary suspension of the committee sessions in parliament. The issue came as a result from the parliament deputy speaker’s ruling that committees should stop using parliament chambers as from the 15th May 2018. Unfortunately, the committees are unable to utilize the committee rooms because of their inadequate facilities for the PAC to effectively execute its mandate. Another challenge is that the Master of the High Court personnel have presented the PAC with an urgent court order. The concerned staff were summoned by the committee and given 21 days to reappear before the committee on the 16th May 2018 for further questioning and presentation of relevant documents to support their arguments. The implicated employees desire the court to protect them from further interrogations and that the previous evidence should be disregarded.
Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) held a press briefing on the 2nd May 2018 at TRC conference hall on “Extended Pre-Trial Detention, Police Brutality on Disadvantaged Communities, Judicial Crisis and Poor Service Delivery in Mining Affected Communities which Have Become Major Contributors Of Human Rights Violations In Lesotho”. The Centre participated at the NGOs Forum and the 62nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania from the 21-27 April 2018. The media briefing was intended to report back to the public on the issues the Centre underscored at the African Commission.
Transformation Resource Centre intervened in the recent community uprising against the mine due to the dissatisfaction of the community regarding non-compliance of the Storm Mountain Diamonds (SMD) to the agreements made on Friday February 9, 2018. Some of the community grievances include negligible employment opportunities for the community, poor road infrastructure, failure to construct community toilets as corporate social responsibility and resettlement of community members.
The community aggrieved by these incidents went to the main road leading to Tlaeeng embarking on a blockade on Wednesday morning (April 26, 2018) until Thursday afternoon (April 27, 2018). They were forcefully ordered to unblock the road by Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Paseka Mokete without any resolutions. DCP Mokete gave the instruction at the public gathering which was meant to give the position of the mine and the police in relation to the community grievances. The community was also requested to give the government an opportunity to intervene in the matters.
However, the mine and the government have aggravated the matter by arresting the chairperson of the community committee on allegations of igniting violence and making life-threatening comments/
No clear resolutions have been made up until this far. The community is still aggrieved and wounded by the reluctance of the mine and government to deliver on their promises. TRC continues to advocate for the rights of the mine affected community and assist in the fair resolutions of the persisting problems.
Transformation Resource Centre held a two day Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 27th – 28th April 2018 at the Centre’s conference hall. The AGM featured presentations on “The Non-Accountability of Public Funds” from Hon. Sam Rapapa (Chairperson of the Economic Cluster), Hon. Likopo Mahase member of the Public Account Committee, Dr Maluke Letete (Nul Lecturer and Economist) and Mr Kopano Mou representing the Auditor General’s office. On the second day, the TRC board made presentations on both the 2017 annual report and the financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2017. Amongst the participants were the TRC members, academia, civil society and legislatures.
Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) and sister organization Construction and Mineworkers Association Union (CAMAU) held a memorial service for CAMAU’s deputy President Pheello Solomon Lemeke on Thursday 26th April 2018. Mr Lemeke passed away on the 11th April 2018 from heart failure associated with being overworked. He was an activist who fought for the labor rights of employees within the mining industry of Lesotho for years. He had worked in different mines in Lesotho and South Africa. He was currently working at Storm Mountain Diamond (SMD) when he died. May his soul rest in peace. Amongst the attendees were the Minister of Mines, the Chair-person of the Natural Resource Cluster from National Assembly, former Law Society President, family, CAMAU comrades and friends.
SADC Preventative Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL) through its civilian unit led by Ambassador George had a consultative meeting with TRC on the 5th April 2018. The delegation sought human rights breadth of view from the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) as a leading civil society organization on human rights issues in Lesotho. The organization has contributed tremendously in raising human rights awareness an seeking redress for people whose rights have been violated. TRC continuously advocates for the right to fair trial to separate the guilty from the innocent in order to achieve a just society.