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‘Informed and engaged citizenry is the cornerstone of a thriving democracy’

The prominent journalist and activist, Kananelo Boloetse is synonymous with unwavering commitment to the rule of law, tireless advocacy for the protection of rights, and relentless efforts to hold those in power accountable.

During the year 2021, in what appeared to be a David versus Goliath scenario, Boloetse triumphed over major telecommunications companies in the country where he approached the regulator, Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) to rein in the telecoms for charging out of bundle rates when the subscriber’s data had run out without consumers’ permission. And indeed he prevailed in that Vodacom Lesotho and Econet Telecom Lesotho send regular notifications nudging subscribers about the amount of data left before their bundles deplete.

Last year he and Advocate Lintle Tuke dominated news headlines when they launched a constitutional challenge to the State of Emergency declaration and the recall of Parliament that was already resolved and both the Constitutional Court and the Court of Appeal ruled in their favour.

The Constitutional Court recently dismissed his case where he and others were challenging the National Assembly’s move to reinstate the bills that lapsed upon its dissolution last year. In its ruling, the court said the National Assembly has jurisdiction to recall bills from the previously dissolved parliament. He had since appealed this ruling and the Appeal Court will hear his case in its upcoming October session.

Boloetse has recently announced the establishment of his co-founded organisation, Advocates for the Supremacy of the Constitution, also known as Section 2, Boloetse vows to passionately uphold and safeguard the Constitution’s supremacy in Lesotho. Boloetse and founding members through this organised platform will pursue and ensure checks and balances, democratic governance, accountability and rule of law in a democratic Lesotho.

In this interview with him, Thoboloko Ntšonyane finds out what the Section 2 aspires to achieve and how it will champion the supremacy of the Constitution.

Below is the excerpt of the interview.

What is the mandate of the Advocates for the Supremacy of the Constitution, also known as Section 2?

The mandate of the Advocates for the Supremacy of the Constitution, or Section 2, is to vigorously champion and defend the supremacy of the Constitution in Lesotho. We are dedicated to upholding the principles and values enshrined in our constitution, ensuring that it remains the bedrock of our democracy. Through advocacy, legal engagement, and public awareness initiatives, we seek to promote and safeguard constitutional integrity.

Who are the founding members of Section 2?

The founding members of Section 2 are a group of passionate individuals who share a deep commitment to constitutional supremacy. Together, we bring diverse legal expertise, advocacy experience, and a shared vision for advancing the principles enshrined in our constitution.

What unique perspectives or approaches does your organization bring to the table in a landscape already occupied by other institutions? How do you intend to complement the efforts of existing oversight bodies while introducing innovative perspectives on constitutional matters?

Section 2 recognises the valuable roles played by existing oversight bodies such as Parliament, CSOs, the Ombudsman, courts, and the media. Our unique contribution lies in our singular focus on the supremacy of the Constitution. We aim to complement these institutions by providing specialised legal advocacy, targeted public awareness campaigns, and collaborative initiatives to bolster constitutional understanding and enforcement. We introduce innovative perspectives by fostering a culture of constitutional literacy and by engaging with communities at the grassroots level.

Who are the immediate beneficiaries of Section 2, and how is the public going to benefit from this organization? Can you talk to a Mosotho at grassroots level who may not even appreciate the importance of the Constitution within a democratic dispensation like Lesotho?

The immediate beneficiaries of Section 2 are the citizens of Lesotho. Our work directly impacts every Mosotho, regardless of their background or level of legal understanding. At grassroots level, we strive to empower individuals with the knowledge of their constitutional rights and the mechanisms to protect them. For example, if a person faces a situation where their rights are infringed upon, Section 2 will provide them with the necessary support and resources to seek redress. By ensuring that the constitution is upheld, we contribute to a more just and equitable society, where every Mosotho’s rights are respected.

What other avenues apart from litigation is Section 2 are going to be exploited in order to ensure the enshrinement of the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land?

In addition to litigation, Section 2 will utilize various advocacy channels, including public awareness campaigns, workshops, and seminars. We aim to engage with communities, civil society, educational institutions, and other stakeholders to promote constitutional literacy. Through collaborations with like-minded organisations, we will amplify our collective efforts in upholding and promoting the supremacy of the Constitution.

How will this organisation tackle the otherwise seemingly prevailing trend of citizens being passive rather than active participants in the democratic process?

Section 2 is committed to transforming passive observers into active participants in our democracy. We will conduct extensive civic education programs to empower citizens with the knowledge and tools to engage in the democratic process effectively. By facilitating open dialogues, town hall meetings, and community discussions, we aim to create spaces where citizens feel heard and valued.

We believe that an informed and engaged citizenry is the cornerstone of a thriving democracy. Which organisation in Lesotho has talked about town hall meetings? This isn’t our idea but it is something that hasn’t been done in Lesotho. We are going to do it. We aren’t like all these organisations that are based in Maseru. We are going to be the voice of the voiceless.

What long-term goals does your organization have regarding constitutional enshrinement, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Our long-term goals revolve around creating a culture of constitutional consciousness and ensuring that the supremacy of the constitution is upheld in all aspects of governance. We envision a society where every Mosotho is well-versed in their constitutional rights and actively participates in the democratic process. To achieve this, we will continue our legal advocacy, expand our public awareness initiatives, and collaborate with stakeholders to foster constitutional ethos that endures for generations to come.

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