Southern African News Features                                           SANF 12 No 19 , May 2012

Mosisili wins fourth term as Lesotho Prime Minister

by Joseph Ngwawi

The newly formed Democratic Congress (DC) of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has swept to victory in national elections held on 26 May in Lesotho, which have been described as credible or free and fair by regional and international observers.

The DC won 41 of the 80 contested constituencies or 51 percent against 26 seats for the main opposition All-Basotho Convention (ABC) led by former Foreign Minister Thomas Thabane, according to final results published by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Lesotho.

The former ruling party, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) could only manage 12 seats while the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) led by Lekhetho Rakuoan got one seat.

The DC, however, failed to win in the capital Maseru where its candidates lost to the ABC.

Voter turnout was 50 percent of the more than one million Basotho who were registered to vote in the elections to choose new Members of Parliament for the 80 contested seats in Lesotho’s 120-seat House of Assembly

The poll was expected to be a three-way race between the DC, the LCD and the ABC. Mosisili defected from the LCD in February to form the DC.

More than 900 candidates, comprising of 942 who were nominated by 18 parties and 21 independents, took part in the elections.

Under Lesotho law, the leader of the majority party in the National Assembly automatically becomes prime minister.

The victory by the DC was enough to enable Mosisili to form the next government. The 67-year-old Mosisili has been the Prime Minister of Lesotho since May 1998.

National Assembly members are elected by direct popular vote using the mixed member proportional system. Under this system, 80 parliamentarians in single-member constituencies are chosen using the first-past-the-post system while the remaining 40 are elected from one national constituency using party-list proportional representation.

The latter is used to determine the number of seats each party would receive if the system was fully proportional. The total number of votes cast on the party ballot is divided by the 120 seats at stake in the National Assembly to determine how many seats each party deserves to receive.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observer Mission (SEOM) praised the conduct of the Lesotho elections as generally credible.

“It is SEOM’s overall view that the elections were conducted in an open and transparent manner. SEOM was impressed by the patience of voters who were able to express their franchise peacefully, freely and unhindered in all polling stations,” the head of the mission and South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, said.

The SEOM cited some of the concerns raised by Lesotho stakeholders on the electoral process included allegations of discrepancies regarding party acronyms and candidate names on ballot papers, problems with the voters’ roll, intimidation during the electoral process and media polarisation.

The SEOM was officially launched on 12 May 2012, by Ebrahim in the presence of SADC Executive Secretary, Tomaz Augusto Salomao and other stakeholders in Lesotho.

More than 70 observers from the SADC Secretariat, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe were deployed in all the districts of Lesotho.

In compliance with SADC policies relating to gender balance, the SEOM included Members of Parliament, political and electoral experts, civil servants, senior government officials and members of civil society.

The SEOM launch was at the invitation of the IEC and was consistent with provisions of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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