Lesotho flag. Picture: ISTOCK
Lesotho flag. Picture: ISTOCK

More than 10 years of unstable coalition governments and army interference in the running of the country has prompted growing public sentiment for a stronger monarchy in Lesotho‚ an Afrobarometer study has found.

Key findings of the survey show the following:

• Seventy-five percent of Basotho say the constitution should be amended to allow the king to have more say on issues of national importance. The survey authors noted that support for expanding the king’s powers is strong regardless of respondents’ location‚ gender and political party affiliation.

• Seventy-five percent of Basotho say the involvement of Lesotho’s security forces in politics should decrease.

• Two-thirds 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. Afrobarometer commented that three-quarters of its survey respondents believed coalition governments were more unstable (76%) and had more difficulty getting things done (76%) than one-party governments.

Lesotho’s political upheavals may be taking a toll on citizens’ appreciation of elections‚ Afrobarometer warned. Its survey found that the proportion that says the country should choose its leaders through regular‚ open‚ and honest elections plunged from 73% in 2014 to 48% in 2017.

With the end of military rule in 1994‚ Lesotho’s wave of democratisation saw a new constitution and multiparty competition. A mixed-member proportional 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‚" Afrobarometer said.

"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 multisectoral reforms with an eye to returning the country to stability."

Afrobarometer said the survey outcomes‚ notably the dramatic drop in popular support for elections‚ ought to give added urgency to the reform efforts.

"The reform process becomes a necessity when institutions fall short of their expected effectiveness in addressing economic‚ social‚ and political needs of the nation‚" it commented.

"Basotho are clearly looking for change‚ whether in a more powerful king‚ less politicised security forces or an electoral system that produces more effective government. A precipitous drop in support for elections as the best way to choose leaders may serve as a red flag that the democratic experiment requires fine-tuning."

See the full report here: