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Lesotho Deputy Prime Minister hails study tour to New Zealand

4 July 2014

The Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho, Mothetjoa Metsing has said the study tour of Members of Parliament and senior officials from his country which he led to New Zealand has enabled them to better understand government under a Mixed Member Proportion (MMP) system.

Mr Metsing was commenting at the end of a one week trip that was hosted by the New Zealand Parliament in association with the Commonwealth Secretariat.

“Our coming to New Zealand has deepened our understanding of the MMP system which Lesotho adopted from New Zealand, and which brought into place the first coalition government in Lesotho’s history after the 2012 elections. The visit has also exposed us to how New Zealand’s parliament and its public service operate in a MMP environment, including understanding how the public service retains the trust of the public through its independence and political neutrality,” Mr Metsing said.

He added: “The lessons we have learnt will contribute to the on-going political reforms in Lesotho and the evolution of democracy and development in the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.”

During their stay in New Zealand, the delegation focused on understanding the operation of effective parliamentary processes in a MMP environment; forming and sustaining coalition governments; maintaining an independent and politically neutral public service; and the transition period after an election.

The delegation also examined conventions and legislation that guide the election transition period and heard from New Zealand Members of Parliament how coalition agreements are negotiated. They were also informed of the processes and structures that assist coalition governments to be sustained in that country. The group met with senior civil servants and senior officers from the military and police to understand better how such institutions carry out their functions in a professional manner consistent with the rule of law and democratic principles.

The Commonwealth's Expert Adviser to Lesotho, Dr Rajen Prasad, said: “I am delighted that the study visit has been successfully concluded.  Members of the delegation were fully engaged in what was an intensive week-long process examining critical aspects of Lesotho’s developing democracy. Members of the New Zealand Parliament, its officials, senior public servants and the former Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand have been outstanding in their support and input into the programme.

“I expect the final report to provide concrete proposals that will take Lesotho forward in its adjustment to coalition governments under MMP. As part of the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s ‘Good Offices’ work in Lesotho, we hope to remain engaged with the implementation of the outcomes of this substantive study tour."