AD212: Basotho favour multi-sector reforms as support for elections ebbs

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Puleng Adams, Mamello Nkuebe, and Libuseng Malephane

Lesotho experienced the third wave of democratization with the end of military rule in 1994, a new Constitution, and multiparty competition. A mixed member proportional (MMP) 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 (Matlosa & Pule, 2010; Benyera, 2017). 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.

As the reform process moves forward, Afrobarometer survey findings shed some light on citizens’ perceptions and preferences with regard to the process and its outcomes. Findings show that a majority of Basotho welcome SADC involvement in the reform process and want greater powers for the King, less political involvement by security forces, and a return to a majoritarian electoral system that will help the country avoid ineffective coalition governments. A dramatic drop in popular support for elections may give added urgency to reform efforts.

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