Today, the people of Lesotho are heading to the polls – two years earlier than originally planned. Lesotho has been viewed as a rather peaceful country, and as a democratic success in Africa after its 2012 elections. However, it has also had its fair share of corruption, coups d’état, and political instability.
Brief contextual history: Pakalitha Mosisili was Prime Minister of Lesotho for a 14-year stint from 1998 to 2012 as the head of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). Prior to the 2012 elections, Mosisili left LCD and formed a new party, the Democratic Congress (DC), and Metsing then became the LCD leader. Before all of this occurred, in 2006, Tom Thabane left the LCD and formed his own party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC). The important bit is that the three major parties of today are semi-opposing factions of the same party, hence all the disagreements. Mosisili leads DC, Metsing leads LCD, and Thabane leads ABC. There are several other parties, but these three are the major contenders in these elections.
“I object to intellect without discipline; I object to power without constructive purpose.”
What happened last time?: DC, led by Mosisili, won majority of votes in 2012, but a three-party coalition government was formed between the ABC, LCD, and DC, with the ABC heading the coalition. Mosisili handed power over to Thabane and things were peaceful—at least for a while.
“The means of many outweigh the means of the few. Or of the one.”
What is happening now?: After Parliament was suspended by King Letsie III, slow-heating controversy between the three parties exploded into the open when the army forcibly occupied police stations in the capitol, and an attempted coup d’état was aimed at Prime Minister Thabane. Because of this, Peace Corps took precautionary measures and consolidated all Lesotho PCVs in South Africa for a Three Week Hiatus. The two bodyguards that tipped him off and allowed him enough time to escape back in August were shot and injured a few months later, and an innocent bystander was killed. It was also rumored that there was another attempt to finish off the bodyguards while they were recovering in the hospital. There has been additional feuds between the parties (with an forming alliance between DC and LCD that is fuel to the fire). The government has been stagnated in the anticipation of these early elections and tensions are heightened for some during this time.
“The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.”
What will happen next?: Tensions are high, and many post-election outcomes have been predicted, both tranquil and turbulent. Some believe the tragedies that occurred after the 1998 elections are still haunting memories for many Basotho, and that there is no chance of unrest occurring again. Most of the people I have talked to are either major supporters of ABC, or absolutely despise politics and see no light at the end of the tunnel with either of the choices—voting would inevitably only support a corrupt candidate. After the polls close tonight and the votes are counted, the hope is that peace will find its way back to Lesotho and everyone can live long and prosper.
“Without followers, evil cannot spread.”