Highlights from the 7th National Community Parliament
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1.0. Background

The 7th National Community Parliament was held in Maseru from 6 - 8 October 2014. More than 300 people attended the event which was jointly organised by the Lesotho Council for Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN) and Development for Peace Education (DPE). Other partners involved in the content and implementation of the event include the Transformation Resource Centre, Patriot Vision in Action, the Lesotho National Council of Women, Centre for Empowerment and Social Analysis, Campaign for Education Forum, Action Aid International Lesotho, Send a Cow and Lesotho Environmental Justice and Advocacy Centre

Community Parliament embodies one of LCN's key strategies through using public awareness and participation and is part of the Public Participation & NSAs Capacity Building for Development project, and the Deepening Decentralization of Non-State Actors project are both funded by the European Union.

Community Parliament is a platform where ordinary people from communities across Lesotho are given the opportunity to voice their issues and concerns to the nation's decision makers and Ministers. It is a platform aimed at providing communities an opportunity to influence the National Budget. The elected representatives from the communities address senior officials from different ministries about issues concerning their villages and livelihoods and in turn Ministers use the information to shape policy and allocate their budget.

Additionally, the Community Parliament gives people the chance to understand how the National Parliament works and how it allocates funds for different ministries and national projects.

Community Parliament as a concept is a brain child of DPE. It began as a small gesture attended by communities from where DPE is working and gained momentum until DPE rolled it out to other organisation, it has become so popular not only as a budget advocacy tool but also a platform where ordinary citizens ask address their concerns for service delivery directly to the ministers, that CSOs in other Countries like Swaziland are beginning to explore possibility of using it in their own context as well.

2.0. Day One Proceedings

2.1. Official Opening

Proceedings opened with a prayer and the LCN Executive Director gave a welcome address. In his remarks the Executive Director briefed those present that the occasion was a culmination of preliminary activities that occurred at the community level where communities themselves prioritised their needs and elected their representatives to ask ministers and senior officials questions on their behalf.

Following the welcome remarks was the official opening of National Community Parliament by Deputy Minister of Finance Hon. Matšepo Ramakoae. In her remarks she indicated that as the ministry they support the community parliament as a concept in totality. She highlighted that the occasion should be held in such a time that gives ministries ample time to verify the needs presented by the communities. She told those present that other countries want to come to Lesotho to learn how the model works and as such Lesotho has to make a full use of the model. She promised the gathering that it is intention of the government to deliver budgets speeches in Sesotho and are soliciting expertise wherever they can get it to achieve such. Furthermore, she reiterated that it should be used as a platform to inform the national budget allocations based on essential needs from respective community councils. "Civil Society Organisations should continue to engage ordinary citizens to enhance public participation," she said, adding that the route taken by LCN and its partner, Development for Peace Education, will enhance public participation on governance and budgetary processes.

Deputy Minister of Finance, Matšepo Ramakoae addresses Community Parliament at AME in Maseru

Ministry of Communications Science and Technology

Minister Selibe Mochoboroane said that funds have been requested to erect a tower for the national broadcaster, the tower is planned for Maliba-Matšo, Matsoku. This will be erected at Katse and the Gap filler at Ha Lejone. They are also conducting a study on a Vodacom tower at Ha Katse.

Ministry of Public Works and Transport

Minister Lebesa Maloi said the Ministry is in-line with the National Vision 2020. There are plans to construct roads from Roma to Ramabanta, via Semonkong to Ha Sekake to make the Qacha's Nek distance shorter. He said another major contruction will be on the Hloahloeng to Lesobeng. Mr Maloi revealed that the construction in Tebang, Mathebe, Boleka, Matobo in the Mafeteng district will be financed in the 2015/2016 financial year. Mr. Maloi revealed that the ministry has called for tenders for the construction of a bridge at Likarapeng, linking BB and Leribe that was destroyed by floods during the rainy season.

Ministry of Public Works and Transport Hon. Lebesa Maloi responds questions during the Community Parliament at AME

Women's Forum - Gender based violence : Presentation by Senate Masupha - key messages

Senate told her story. She is the eldest daughter of a Chief and was keen to follow in her father's footsteps. However, the Lesotho Chieftainship Act does not allow a girl child to inherit either property or the Chieftainship. She contested this decision in the Courts but was unsuccessful. Senate believes that the Basotho need to review their legislation to ensure that the rights of women and girls are protected. She continues to fight believing that many women are discriminated against because of their gender.


It was generally agreed that inheritance rights should be reconsidered. Any disputes over Chieftainship and inheritance should be managed in a way that protects the family. Some laws are outdated and should be reviewed in light of gender discrimination. There was also a feeling in the room that traditional customs and beliefs should be respected and upheld.

Women and Children Coordinator Ms Tlaleng Kaaba and Ms Senate Masupha during the Women's Forum at AME

2.2. Day 2 Proceedings

Ministry of Energy, Meteorology, Water Affairs

Mokake Mojakisane - Water Commissioner, Emmanuel Lesoma PS, Paul Lerotholi - CEO WASCO,Tlali Hlasa - RWS

Combined responses

The Ministry is currently devising a water and sanitation strategy to improve access to clean water, maintain water supplies and promote a sustainable environment. For effective service delivery, the ministry had requested M189 million for 2014-15 fiscal year, but received only M80 million. The ministry said only 37% of people have access to clean water while 46% villages need toilets for clean sanitation.

The ministry said, there are many challenges to provide access to water. Metolong Dam will address some of these requirements. Where major water pipes pass near the villages, the villages will automatically get clean water.

WASCO are currently mandated to supply all the towns in the 10 districts of the country. Plans are underway to supply clean water to Butha Buthe, Hlotse, Mafeteng, Mohale's Hoek and Qacha's Nek.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, Meteorology, Water Affairs Mr Emmanuel Lesoma - far right is flanked by officials during the Community Parlimnt in Maseru

Under the Community Total Lack of Sanitation Project, the government will help villages to build toilets to enhance a clean environment. The ministry further highlighted that forum's such as the Community Parlaiment should be held in districts when the government is preparing the budget, so that the views of the villagers can be incorporated into the ministry's plans. Theo Kaspers from the EU spoke to the delegates, saying that the EU have conducted a study and found that it would cost 50 billion maloti to give every household clean water. This money is not available but the EU is supporting the ministry to supply clean water to as many people as possible.

Rural Electrification Unit

The ministry is to connect 29 villages in Butha Buthe and 51 in Leribe. This will also be extended to all districts in Lesotho. The topography of the country is a challenge to the electrification project but there are many electrification schemes every year country-wide.

Ministry of Local Government

Deputy Minister Apesi Ratsele, Mrs Dingiswayo -PS, Matiisetso Libetso - DG, Mikia Molapo Chieftainship, Lucy Molapo - Acting Commissioner LSPP, Letlola Sekatle - Chief Engineer, Mabakubung Pitso - Financial Controller, Lerato Seisa - Director HR

There is a major construction programme on roads eg 54 km will be constructed in Berea to serve about nine electoral divisions, Leribe, Mankoaneng will have 14 km from Kota to Karamele, Madata will have a new road of about 20 km, Motanesolo will also have 15km amongst other roads.

Local Government, Chieftainship and Parliamentary Affairs Deputy Minister Hon. Apesi Ratsele addresses participants at AME

Day 3 Proceedings

Minister of Agriculture

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Mr Mahala Molapo said Lesotho has committed 10 percent of its annual budget to agriculture and has 280 000 hectares of arable land which needs to be cultivated.

It is still a challenge to reach remote farms but the government has introduced a subsidy programme. Storage facilities will be constructed to maintain fertiliser and seeds that will be sold to rural farmers.

The IFAD is to donate M320 million for production of wool and mohair and to build 11 shedding centres countrywide.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Hon. Mahala Molapo

Minister of Health

Minister Dr Pinkie Manamolela revealed that the ministry is currently working to re-open the Village Health Posts. These facilities deal directly with the patients in the villages.

She said as part of reforms in the ministry, the government is aiming to place Basotho doctors in all 19 hospitals. They are also implementing a retention programme to ensure that doctors stay in hospitals.

She informed the audience that Vodacom and Irish Embassy has pledged to buy two vehicles per district. These will be used to transport health workers to remote areas, as part of the health outreach programme.

She said access to ART for new patients will no longer be a problem because even without checking the viral load (CD4 count) in a patient, nurses are well trained to know if the patient can be absorbed into the treatment programme.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Pinkie Manamolela

Minister of Education and Training

Minister 'Makabelo Mosothoane said during the last financial year 11 science labs have been constructed and funding requested from the Japanese government to construct 12 high schools in areas of high population.

There are plans to introduce rental book scheme in high school, for Maths, Science and English text books. She further indicated that Education Act of 2010 needs all to join hands in ensuring that the schools are well run and it is responsibility of the communities to report mismanagement as the ministry cannot be in all places at the same time.

Minister of Education and Training Hon. ‘Makabelo Mosothoane

3.0 Assumed impact of intervention

The National Community Parliament appealed to the emotions of the rural communities and has shown relevance on how communities can play a meaningful role in development. Government officials saw it as a platform that can inform the national budget allocations.

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