REFERENDUM law on the cards for reforms

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By Mamello Mosaefane

The Technical Reforms Committee on parliamentary reforms is on the verge of introducing the Referendum Bill,2020 aimed at facilitating a referendum for national reforms law’s passage.

In its statement of objects and reasons, the bill circulated by Minister of law justice, Nqosa Mahao, purposes that the Bill is to provide for the manner in which a vote shall be taken for the purpose of obtaining the approval of the electors with respect to a question on any matter of national interest and importance.

The Bill is also aimed at empowering the Independent Electoral Commission with the advice of the director of elections.

“Where parliament considers that it is in the public interest to obtain, by means of a referendum, the opinion of electors on any issue or question, the King may by proclamation and acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, direct that the opinion of the electors is obtained by putting the question to the electors,” reads part of the bill.

The bill further provides that the referendum questions will be worded in a way that each elector may express an opinion on the question by making a cross or other mark after the word “yes” or “no”, with a possibility of more than one question put to electors.

The bill also said the country’s two official languages, English and Sesotho will be used in referendum questions.

The electoral commission will, according to the bill be responsible for the supervision of the general conduct of a referendum and promoting and regulating voter education for a referendum.

This, the commission, the bill says will do in accordance with the provision of the Constitution of Lesotho and the National Assembly Electoral Act, 2011.

The commission is furthermore empowered by the bill to be responsible for the preparation of the ballot papers for a referendum.

The bill also reads that for the purpose of the referendum, the commission will modify the ballot form used in general elections in such a way that, in its opinion, will best achieve the referendum purpose.

The bill also provides that a restriction stands, that no proclamation may be issued when parliament stands dissolved.

This referendum Bill,2020, “shall apply to the parts of the Constitution that mandate a referendum, any law or issue that, in the opinion of the parliament may be subjected to the public opinion by way of the referendum”.

The Bill is, however, yet to be discussed with by the National reforms Authority and the IEC and thereafter be submitted to parliament.

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