Lesotho a yoke for SADC
The recent elections in Lesotho to choose a new government to replace an unworkable coalition that came into power in 2012 had been billed as a test for the Southern African Development Community’s diplomacy. Commentators made this observation after the 15-member grouping brokered talks that agreed to bring the elections forward by two years because of bickering among partners of the coalition that had been in charge since 2012.
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was the SADC appointed facilitator to the Lesotho talks. It was the hope of the regional grouping and the people in Lesotho that the February 28 elections would produce a winner with the majority to form a government on their own.
But that was not to be as it is now in the public domain that the elections could not producer that kind of a winner leading to yet another coalition in the mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa.
In 2012, the Kingdom of Lesotho went for general elections following yet another successful SADC-initiated dialogue to end a political crisis in the country.
The much-anticipated elections were won by the then ruling Democratic Congress (DC) party led by former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
However, the DC failed to garner enough votes to form a government.
In light of this, the main opposition party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) headed by the past immediate Prime Minister Thomas Thabane forged an alliance with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Basotho National Party (BNP) to form the next government.
Expectations were high that the three-party coalition government would bring lasting stability to a country that has a long history of political instability, dating back to the time when it attained its independence in October 1966
This time around Thabane’s party won the most constituency seats in the elections but failed to garner enough votes to form a government. And Mosisili whose party trailed Thabane’s formed a coalition with the same parties that had formed a unity government with Thabane before their differences forced the recent polls.
SADC’s hopes for a repeat of the Zimbabwean situation went up in smoke. In Zimbabwe SADC brokered an inclusive government between ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC formations in 2008 which lasted until 2013 when elections brought the coalition arrangement to an end. ZANU-PF won the elections convincingly to put an end to constant disagreements in the coalition government, which were holding up progress of government programmes.
But in the case of Lesotho, SADC must remain seized with the political developments in the mountain kingdom and be ready to get involved again to disentangle any shackles around the coalition.
Given the fact that Mosisili does not have a majority and will require the goodwill of ally parties to push legislation through Parliament, conflicts cannot be entirely ruled out in the coalition. The leader of the coalition is also susceptible to votes of no confidence just like Thabane was.
It is quite a complicated political terrain for a country as small as Lesotho and SADC must be ready to be called upon to assist once again.