JAE Volume 7 Number 1, June 2008
Special Issue: Elections and Democracy in Lesotho

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Editors: Denis Kadima & Khabele Matlosa
Copy Editor: Pat Tucker

Contributors: Khabele Matlosa, Jørgen Elklit, Francis K Makoa, Sehoai Santho, Fako Johnson Likoti, Sofonea Shale,Motlamelle A Kapa, Lira Theko, Khabele Matlosa, Victor Shale, Masilo Philemon Makhetha, Nthakeng Pheello Selinyane.

Key terms: 2007, General Election, Lesotho, MMP System, Managing, Post-Election, Conflict, Party, Alliances, Coalitions, Culture, Political, Tolerance, Electoral, System, Reform, Gender, Equality, Legitimacy, Role, Civil Society Organisations, Democratisation, Floor Crossing, Representative Democracy, Socio-Economic, Cost, Media, 1993, demilitarisation in Lesotho: The general election of 1993 and its aftermath, R Southall, T Petlane, Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 1995.


Khabele Matlosa

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Dr Khabele Matlosa is Senior Advisor-Research at EISA 14 Park Road Richmond Johannesburg

The 2007 General Election in Lesotho: Abuse of the MMP System?

Jørgen Elklit

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Dr Jørgen Elklit is Professor of Political Science, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

ABSTRACT: Lesotho took an innovative step forward in 2001, when the introduction of the MMP electoral system became a central part of the political and consensual solutions to the upheaval following the 1998 elections. MMP combines proportional representation on a national scale with single-member constituencies and the solution was seen by many as a promising step forward. The system was incorporated in Lesotho's Constitution in 2001 and was used for the first time in the 2002 elections, where it clearly delivered on its promises. In 2007, however, the picture was very different, primarily because the IEC had accepted the participation in the election of political parties which had formed informal alliances aimed at circumventing the 2001 constitutional amendment. The main problem was that the memorandum of understanding of one of alliances was accepted by the IEC, despite the fact that the intention was clearly to circumvent the Constitution. To the consternation of the other parties, the arrangement gave the alliance an additional 20 seats. The fact that the alliance did not directly violate the electoral law and was accepted by the IEC has resulted in an extremely complicated political and legal impasse. The paper sketches the background of the current situation, explains why it has developed, and suggests a way forward.

The 2007 General Election in Lesotho: Managing the Post-Election Conflict

Khabele Matlosa

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ABSTRACT: The optimism triggered by Lesotho's transition from military dictatorship to multiparty democracy and the reform of the electoral system from the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system to the mixed member proportional (MMP) system may be fizzling out. In 1993 the country underwent an historic transition from military dictatorship to embrace multiparty democracy through an epoch-making election. Since then it has held four multiparty elections. The first two (1993 and 1998) were held on the basis of the FPTP electoral system, while the latest two (2002 and 2007) were held on the basis of the new MMP system. However, the extent to which these multiparty elections have added value to democratisation in the country still remains moot. Almost all the elections held under the FPTP system were contentious and their outcomes evoked both violent and non-violent responses from defeated parties. Following the introduction of the MMP system there were high expectations that levels of violent conflict would subside. This was indeed the case after the 2002 general election, but this trend changed after the 2007 election, which was marred by violence which triggered direct intervention from the Southern African Development Community.

Party Alliances and Political Coalitions During the 2007 General Election in Lesotho

Francis K Makoa

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Professor Francis Kopano Makoa is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at the National University of Lesotho, where he is also Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences

ABSTRACT: In 2007, for the first time in Lesotho's political history, some political parties formed formal electoral pacts, variously dubbed alliances or coalitions, to fight the general election of 17 February. The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy and the newly formed All Basotho Convention entered into alliances with their smaller counterparts, the National Independent Party and the Lesotho Workers' Party respectively, as polling day neared. While the benefits of these alliances for the partners may not be in doubt, what is doubtful is the ability of the arrangement to expand democracy and comply with the goal and thrust of the mixed member proportional electoral and parliamentary model adopted as a panacea for incessant election-centred conflict. Also raising serious questions is the apparent fraud that went along with the process of forming the alliances. Yet this conundrum inheres in the country's two-ballot electoral system, which apparently allows political parties registering for elections to choose between fielding candidates in constituencies and targeting party votes only.

Prospects for the Promotion of a Culture of Political Tolerance in Lesotho

Sehoai Santho

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Sehoai Santho is a governance specialist and an independent consultant with Moruo Consulting, Maseru, Lesotho

ABSTRACT: The main aim of this paper is to examine the problems and opportunities facing Lesotho in institutionalising a culture of political tolerance - an indispensable requirement in an emerging democracy. These problems and opportunities are discussed in the context of an assessment of the challenges of consolidating democratic governance in the country. Sustainable democratic governance must be based on a strong foundation of tolerance of the diverse views and perspectives of all major stakeholders, particularly political parties. This is even more relevant in the current context, where the country must manage the challenges of the post-2007 election environment.

How Parties Fared in the 2007 Election: A Theoretical Exploration of the Outcome

Fako Johnson Likoti

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Dr Fako Likoti is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and Administrative Studies at the National University of Lesotho Maseru, Lesotho

ABSTRACT: Lesotho, like other less developed countries, has embarked on the route to democratisation. As part of this process one of the tests a country must go through is the holding of free and fair elections. Elections have been recognised as one of the most important institutional mechanisms for shaping both political participation and competition. The role of elections in a democracy is but one of its fundamentals, albeit a vital one. Since the 1998 election in Lesotho one party appears to be not only dominating the political landscape but also winning every election. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) won the 1998, 2002 and 2007 elections despite the fact that it fragmented twice, giving rise to two parties - the Lesotho Peoples' Congress in September 2001 and the All Basotho Convention in October 2006. In 2007 the LCD formed an election pact with the National Independent Party. In analysing the LCD's repeated success this paper considers four voting models: sociological, party identification, patron-client, and rational choice. While there are various voting models the paper argues that the rational choice model appears to come closest to explaining the LCD's success in 2007. It does not, however, claim that the model provides a definitive answer but attempts to reflect patterns that may reveal some similarities with the model.

Electoral System Reform and Implications for Gender Equality

Khabele Matlosa

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ABSTRACT: This paper examines the impact of an electoral system on women's participation in electoral politics and their representation in the legislature. It advances the argument that while the nature of an electoral system influences the degree of women's representation other factors also play a role. Upon independence in 1966 Lesotho adopted the first-past-the-post system. This system, which was used until 2002, is generally considered less conducive to gender equality. There was a general optimism, therefore, when the model was changed in 2002 to a mixed member proportional system, which introduced an element of proportionality to the way in which votes cast in elections are translated into parliamentary seats. Generally proportional systems are reputed to encourage gender equality. But has this been the case in Lesotho thus far?

The Challenge of Political Legitimacy Posed by the 2007 General Election

Sofonea Shale

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Sofonea Shale is Director of Development for Peace Education (DPE) in Lesotho Private Bag A483 Maseru 100 Lesotho

ABSTRACT: The placing of electoral democracy at the top of the SADC agenda is steadily beginning to pay dividends - Swaziland is the only country in Southern Africa which does not hold democratic elections. Since democratisation in 1993 Lesotho has held four elections. This paper considers the 2007 election, discussing the electoral process and the subsequent challenges to its legitimacy. The argument advanced is that conflict and contested election outcomes threaten the legitimacy of elected authorities and tend also to threaten the stability of the country's political system. The institutionalisation of political conflict resolution based on dialogue and tolerance seems to be the preferred way to tackle these problems. Lesotho must embark on deliberate transformation to strengthen the institutions of democracy in order to accommodate emerging political attitudes.

The Role and Position of Civil Society Organisations in Lesotho's Democratisation Process

Motlamelle Anthony Kapa and Lira Theko

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Motlamelle Kapa is a lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, National University of Lesotho and a PhD candidate in the Department of Political and International Studies, Rhodes University
Lira Theko is a Programme Officer at the Transformation Resource Centre, Maseru,

ABSTRACT: This paper assesses the role and position of civil society in Lesotho's democratisation process by interrogating the mandate and functions of civil society organisations from immediately before the transitional elections of 1993 to the recent 2007 polls. While acknowledging the pro-democracy activities of civil society we argue that because of its failure to observe the theoretical civil-political divide its role in democratisation has been ambivalent. While in some cases it has been propitious for democratisation, in others it has tended to undermine the process. We conclude that not only should civil society position itself outside the political realm, although we admit this is not easy to do, but that political society should accept and tolerate civil society as an indispensable partner in the democratisation process.

The Impact of Floor Crossing on Electoral Politics and Representative Democracy in Lesotho

Khabele Matlosa and Victor Shale

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Victor Shale is a Researcher at EISA and a Political Science doctoral candidate at the University of South Africa

ABSTRACT: There is a firm consensus among both academics and policy analysts that political parties are the linchpin of representative democracy. However, parties require, among other things, internal cohesion, democratic and visionary leadership, intra-party democracy and constructive management of internal conflict as well as mutually beneficial inter-party relations if they are to add value to representative democracy. Without the above qualities political parties on their own, and through the legislature, may not play their role effectively. While floor crossing or political migration, in and of itself, is not necessarily undesirable in a democracy, if not well managed it accentuates the proliferation of parties, a trend that may have adverse effects on already fragmented party systems and fledgling representative democracies such as that prevailing in Lesotho. In the discussion that follows we examine the impact on Lesotho's representative parliamentary democracy of faction fighting and party schisms, which, in turn, lead to floor crossing.

The Socio-Economic Cost of the Post-Election Conflict

Masilo Philemon Makhetha

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Masilo Makhetha is Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, National University of Lesotho

ABSTRACT: Both theory and empirical evidence suggest that political instability hinders domestic investment and foreign direct investment, therefore retarding economic growth. Moreover, political instability generates inefficiently high inflation, which hinders investment, reduces welfare and retards economic growth. In Lesotho periods of political instability are associated with very low levels of investment and economic growth. However, there is no evidence to suggest that political instability has led to high levels of inflation in those troubled periods.

The Media and Electoral Politics in Lesotho Between 1993 and 2007

Nthakeng Pheello Selinyane

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Nthakeng Selinyane is a lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, National University of Lesotho

ABSTRACT: It has become commonplace to lambaste the media for its failure to play a positive role in the cause of nation-building and democratisation and (Southern) Africa is no exception to this trend. Little effort, if any, however, has gone into examining the reasons for the stance taken by the media. Nor has any effort - save for various attempts to bribe, cajole, persecute or suppress - gone into mapping the role of the media in Lesotho's electoral politics since the reversion to competitive multiparty constitutionalism. This paper is a preliminary attempt to fill this vacuum.


Motlamelle Anthony Kapa

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Democratisation and demilitarisation in Lesotho: The general election of 1993 and its aftermath
R Southall & T Petlane (eds)
Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, Pretoria 1995, 193 pp.