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Key findings
  • Three-fourths (75%) of Basotho say the Constitution should be amended to allow the King to have more say on issues of national importance. 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, including 64% who believe such involvement should decrease “a lot.”
  • 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. Three-fourths of respondents say coalition governments are more unstable (76%) and have more difficulty getting things done (76%) than one-party governments.
  • A majority of Basotho welcome the SADC’s involvement in the country’s processes to reform its political system (63%), electoral system (60%), and security forces (67%).
  • Lesotho’s political upheavals may be taking a toll on citizens’ appreciation of elections: 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.

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.

Puleng Adams

Puleng Adams is the co-national investigator for Lesotho.

Mamello Nkuebe

Mamello Nkuebe is the Field Manager at Advision

Libuseng Malephane

Libuseng Malephane is the national investigator for Lesotho.