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Youth empowerment takes center stage in parliamentary celebration

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – In a move to commemorate the International Day of Parliamentarism, the Parliament of Lesotho is set to once again embark on an initiative aimed at taking parliament to the people.

This is according to a circular issued by the National Assembly to members.

“The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has marked 30th June as the International Day of Parliamentarism, and the day [has been] celebrated every year since 2018.

“The office of the Rt. Hon.  Speaker of the National Assembly has directed me to inform you Hon. Members that the parliament of Lesotho will, this year, celebrate the day in its endeavuor to take Parliament to the People,” reads the circular issued by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Advocate Lebohang Maema KC.

The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. ‘Matlhohonolofatso Tšepang  Tšita-Mosena said by taking parliament to the youth, they want to empower them for parliamentary appreciation.

Each Member of Parliament (MP) is expected to bring along one youth representative from their constituency or party.

By engaging directly with the youth, she said this exercise will foster a generation of active and empowered youth who are well-versed in democratic processes and are equipped to advocate for the changes they seek in their lives and constituencies.

Mosena said through this initiative, the parliament will engage and expose young people to recognize the strength of their voice and harness it to drive the changes they aspire for.

The Parliament of Lesotho through this move encourages democratic participation by bringing the corridors of power to the people.

The Deputy Speaker stated that the youth will experience firsthand the workings of their parliament by shadowing the Speaker, Leaders of parliament and opposition, Cabinet, backbenchers, Clerks, and parliament staff.

She indicated that the plan is to have a training session for the youth on how the parliament works, preparing them to enact the various roles.

“We expect that after this initiative the youth will be empowered to keenly follow the work of the parliament and use their voices to champion their needs and how they want their affairs to be conducted,” she said. 

Mosena said it is critical that the public understands that parliament is not a “secluded place” but a public institution which every Mosotho can access.

The experience is expected to compel the youth and encourage them to share parliament related processes with their peers when they get back to their communities.

Going forward, she highlighted that the ultimate goal is “to foster knowledge about the functions of parliament, the responsibilities of MPs, and the democratic process through which they are elected”.

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