Snap Lesotho election reveals no outright winner

The final results of Lesotho’s general elections revealed no clear winner as the ruling All Basotho Congress (ABC) party narrowly edged out its nearest rivals in the weekend poll, data on the website of the country’s electoral commission showed on Wednesday.

Incumbent Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s party won 40 constituencies, just three more than the Democratic Congress (DC), as the close race tested the durability of a South Africa-brokered truce following an alleged attempted coup last August.

No one party won enough votes to govern alone, meaning the country will get another coalition government.

The snap parliamentary election was aimed at bringing stability to the crisis-hit southern African kingdom.

The elections were transparent and fair, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Electoral Observation Mission said on Monday.

The African Union (AU) described the election as “peaceful” but noted continuing security concerns in the wake of the failed coup in August last year which prompted Thabane to flee to South Africa.

Deteriorating political situation
Lesotho has a mixed parliamentary system. Eighty lawmakers are voted into power by constituents, while another 40 seats are distributed proportionally after the final tally to ensure all parties are represented.

A party needs 61 of the 120 seats available to rule without being forced into a coalition.

Completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho is one of the world’s poorest countries and its economy is heavily dependent on its larger neighbour, to whom it exports water and hydroelectric power.

The political situation has been deteriorating since June after the prime minister suspended Parliament to avoid a vote of no confidence that would likely have seen him ousted from power.

In the last fragile coalition government, the ABC did not hold the majority of seats in parliament, but outmanoeuvered the winning DC by teaming up with several smaller parties, including the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, which has since rescinded its allegiance.

And with the results pointing once again to coalition, analysts have warned of history repeating itself.

“In a few months’ time, we could be exactly where we are now as a result of the failure of the first coalition,” said Tsoeu Petlane, director of the Maseru-based Transformation Resource Centre.

The major parties have two weeks to woo their smaller counterparts in the hope of forming a majority and with it, take control of the national assembly.

Observers from SADC said laws and policies governing coalition governments in Lesotho needed to be reviewed.

“We think this time around, whatever the outcome, the government should be better able to deal with the issues ahead,” said South Africa’s Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who headed the observer mission.   

“The elections were peaceful and transparent,” said Raila Odinga, the former Kenyan prime minister who is in charge of the AU observer mission to Lesotho.

But he warned: “The relationship between the army and the police is marked by tension despite the signing of an accord between these two agencies.”

Lesotho’s already tense political atmosphere was further plunged into crisis when soldiers attacked police headquarters in August 2014, looting weapons and killing one officer.

The prime minister described the violence as a coup attempt fuelled by the opposition and temporarily moved to neighbouring South Africa, but both the military and the opposition denied any bid to seize power.

The army was confined to barracks for the election, while the regional bloc SADC deployed 475 police officers to provide security.

The military has frequently been used as a political tool in Lesotho’s past, and Odinga recognised the safety concerns of the judiciary that would have to rule on any electoral disputes. – AFP, Reuters

Guest Author

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide

The death of Enoch Mpianzi at Parktown Boys is a...

Ignore the language used in brochures and on open days and be vigilant about the details

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Ramaphosa enters the fray in fight between Gordhan and Mkhwebane

The president said his court case is “unfortunate” and a “measure of last resort”

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.