'We need the king!' Lesotho fed up with politicians' cock-ups

The flag of Lesotho.
The flag of Lesotho.
Image: 123RF/ Luca Mason

Over ten years of unstable coalition governments and army interference in the running of the country has prompted growing public sentiment for a stronger monarchy in Lesotho‚ an Afrobarometer study has found.

Key findings of the survey show:

- Three-fourths (75%) of Basotho say the Constitution should be amended to allow the king to have more say on issues of national importance. The survey authors noted that support for expanding the king’s powers is strong regardless of respondents’ location‚ gender‚ and political party affiliation.

- Three-fourths (75%) of Basotho say the involvement of Lesotho’s security forces in politics should decrease.

- Two-thirds (66%) of Basotho say the country should switch from a proportional representation to a majoritarian electoral system in order to ensure a single-party government rather than a coalition government. Afrobarometer commented that three-fourths of its survey respondents believed coalition governments are more unstable (76%) and have more difficulty getting things done (76%) than one-party governments.

Lesotho’s political upheavals may be taking a toll on citizens’ appreciation of elections‚ Afrobarometer warned. Its survey found that the proportion who say the country should choose its leaders through regular‚ open‚ and honest elections plunged from 73% in 2014 to 48% in 2017.

With the end of military rule in 1994‚ Lesotho's wave of democratization saw a new Constitution and multiparty competition. A mixed member proportional parliamentary system introduced seven years later was hailed as a remedy for political violence and instability.

"In practice‚ however‚ the past decade has been marked by unstable coalition governments‚ active engagement by security forces in political processes‚ and Southern African Development Community (SADC) interventions in 1998‚ 2012‚ and 2014 to re-establish peace and order‚" said Afrobarometer.

"Each major episode draws public outcries of frustration and calls for action on the part of the monarchy‚ even though the country has a constitutional monarchy with very limited powers.

"In response to SADC recommendations‚ the new coalition government has undertaken multi-sectoral reforms with an eye to returning the country to stability."

Afrobarometer said the survey outcomes‚ notably the dramatic drop in popular support for elections‚ ought to give added urgency to the reform efforts.

"The reform process becomes a necessity when institutions fall short of their expected effectiveness in addressing economic‚ social‚ and political needs of the nation‚" it commented. "Basotho are clearly looking for change‚ whether in a more powerful king‚ less politicized security forces‚ or an electoral system that produces more effective government. A precipitous drop in support for elections as the best way to choose leaders may serve as a red flag that the democratic experiment requires fine-tuning."

To see the full report click here.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X