Reforms Authority trims size of cabinet to 18

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By Mamello Mosaefane

The National Reforms Authority has adopted an amendment to the country constitution that reduces the number of ministries from 37 to just 18, including the Prime Minister, his deputy, and deputy ministers.

This, the Authority revealed at its 13th ordinary meeting aimed at validating the constitutional amendments Bill ahead of August 31st and discussing which date is tentative for submission of the bill to the National Assembly of Lesotho.

The adoption of an amendment proposing the trimming of the cabinet comes after Lesotho’s cabinet size had ballooned and been seen as a means by politicians to balance internal party strive by awarding cabinet positions and shredding ministries to small pieces.

While members had divided sentiments on the number of ministries to be constituted, between 15 and 18, the Authority came to a conclusion to adopt and go ahead with 18, per the constitutional reforms committee’s recommendation in the plenary II report.

The purpose of the decrease, the plenary II report said was to link functions with resources.

Palesa Ntakatsane, the chairperson of the constitutional reforms committee, said the committee advised the number of ministers be calculated in percentages to avoid confusion in the future.

“If we just constitutionalize the number, it will create confusion should the number of members of the national assembly and senate decrease and later having to make constitutional amendments. Calculating it in percentages will therefore create consistency,” she said.

She said the percentage is calculated from the total number of members of the national assembly and senate.

The plenary II report points that 12 percent of members of parliament should constitute the size of the cabinet.

She said this makes current calculations stand at 12 percent of 153 which is made by the 120 members of the national assembly and 33 members of the senate.

According to Ntakatsane, if the number was reduced to 15 (10 percent), the number of ministries would therefore be reduced to 13, as the prime minister and his deputy do not hold any ministerial office.

Ntakatsane said they were only told to reduce the number of ministers but never told the preferred number.

“We, therefore, had to conduct a study of how many ministers other countries have. We looked at United Kingdom for example and with such a high population it has only 15 ministers,” she said.