Lesotho

Working to support peace processes in Africa
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The Kingdom of Lesotho is a country made up mostly of highlands, where many of the villages can be reached only on horseback, by foot or light aircraft. The mountainous country is completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa.

Lesotho has an existing monarch, King Letsie III who has no legislative powers. The Kingdom has a history of internal political unrest involving the armed forces. Due to its geographical location, the Kingdom is heavily dependent on South Africa for trade, resources and security purposes and has suffered extreme drought and food shortages in recent history.

Lesotho-circle

Maseru

Capital City

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Thomas Thabane

Prime Minister

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Constitutional Democracy and Monarch

Government System

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Sesotho and English

Major Languages

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Basotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and Other 0.3%

Ethnic Groups

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Protestant 47.8% (Pentecostal 23.1%, Lesotho Evangelical 17.3%, Anglican 7.4%), Roman Catholic 39.3%, Other Christian 9.1%, Non-Christian 1.4%, None 2.3%

Religions

Lesotho's People

1 m
Population
20 %
Youth
15 %
Unemployment

Education

Lesotho spends a higher proportion of its GDP (13%) on education than any other country in the world. An average child in Lesotho can expect to spend 10 years of their life in education. Education is compulsory only between the ages of 6 and 13, secondary education is non-compulsory. It is for these reasons that there’s a gender disparity present in secondary education, with more females attending than males. The Kingdom has a literacy rate of 85%, with female literacy exceeding that of its male counterpart. Lesotho’s Education ranking in Africa 22 out of 54 countries.

Tourism

Tourism is a growing industry in the country. In 2013, travel and tourism contributed about 5.5% to the GDP of Lesotho, with this proportion expected to increase to 6.1% of GDP by 2024. The sector employed 25,000 people in 2013, 4.6% of total national employment. Residents of South Africa, which completely surrounds Lesotho, make up over 90% of the visitors to the country. Many trips are to visit friends and family. Various outdoor pursuits form the most popular leisure activities for tourists in the country. The mountainous terrain draws tourists for hiking, pony trekking and skiing, as well as the use of four-wheel drive trails. The Afriski ski resort operates during the winter months. The most used entry-points into Lesotho include Moshoeshoe International Airport and the land border crossing points of Maseru and Maputsoe. Tourism in the country is overseen by the Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Culture, based in the capital, Maseru.

Migration

Migration in Lesotho shares a unique historical and cultural link with South Africa. Residents of South Africa make up over 90% of the visitors to Lesotho, many trips are to visit friends and family. These factors determine significant migration flows between the two countries. In particular, Lesotho plays a major role in supplying workers to South Africa, especially in the mining industry.

The Economy

1 bn
GDP in USD
1 %
Agriculture
60 %
Work in agriculture
100 th
In World

Primary Resources

Garments, diamonds, water, electricity, wool and mohair

Secondary Resources

Manufacturing, mining, agriculture and services

Social, Economic, and Governance indicators

Taken from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance

9 th
Overall Governance
1 th
Human Development Score
1 th
Sustainable Economic Opportunity score
5 th
Safety & Rule of Law score

Ranked out of 54 African countries

Gender representation

Lesotho’s government has recently drafted a bill to combat gender violence

Lesotho’s government has established a Department of Gender to ensure equality of all opportunities between women, men, girls and boys, so that development efforts have an equal impact on all gender issues.

Timeline of important events

1966

Basutoland gains independence on October 4 as Lesotho, with King Moshoeshoe II the monarch and Chief Leabua Jonathan of the Basotho National Party (BNP) as prime minister.

1970

Chief Leabua Jonathan suspended the constitution following election results in the oppositional favour of the Basotho Congress Party (BCP). King Moshoeshoe II was sent into temporary exile and BCP leaders were imprisoned.

1980

The Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) is established by 9 countries with the Lusaka Declaration, to lessen economic dependence on apartheid South Africa.

1986

Borders blocked by South Africa, which demands the expulsion of the ANC from the country. Major-General Justin Lekhanya takes power after deposing BNP’s Chief Jonathan Leabua in a coup. Following this, power is transferred to King Moshoeshoe II.

1990

King Moshoeshoe II is sent into permanent exile after various assassination attempts. His son Letsie III becomes king. Lesotho severs ties with the People’s Republic of China and re-establishes ties with Taiwan (the Republic of China).

1991

Lekhanya is forced from power by Colonel Elias Tutsoane Ramaema, who lifts a ban on political activity.

1992

Moshoeshoe II returns from exile as an ordinary citizen.

1993

Ramaema hands over power to an elected BCP government. Letsie III tries unsuccessfully to have his father, Moshoeshoe II, reinstated as the head of the constitutional monarchy.

1994

Letsie III stages a military coup, ousting the BCP government.

1995

After SADC intervenes, the BCP government is reinstated, and Letsie III abdicates. Moshoeshoe II is restored to the throne.

1996

Moshoeshoe II, aged 57, dies in a car accident on January 15; Letsie III is sworn in as king.

1997

Lesotho soldiers put down a police mutiny in Maseru. Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle forms the Lesotho Congress of Democrats (LCD) after he is dismissed by the BCP.

1998

LCD wins general elections, leader Pakalitha Mosisili becomes prime minister. However, protests by opposition followers and a rebellion by an army faction resulted in an intervention by SADC. The Multiparty Interim Political Authority is established in December and charged with overseeing future elections.

1999

SADC withdraws its troops from Lesotho after 7 months.

2002

Prime Minister Mosisili is sworn-in for a second five-year term.

2004

Three years of drought culminate in food shortages, the government declares a State of Emergency. Official opening of first phase of multi-billion-dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which supplies water to South Africa.

2005

Voters go to the polls for the first local elections since independence, to choose representatives for 129 councils.

2006

Prince Harry launches a charity in memory of his late mother Princess Diana to help AIDS orphans in Lesotho.

2007

Ruling LCD wins early parliamentary elections; leader of the opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) challenges the outcome. Lesotho suffers its worst drought in 30 years, State of Emergency declared in March.

2009

Prime Minister Mosisili survives a military-style assassination.

2012

Pakalitha Mosisili resigns from the faction-riven LCD party to form the Democratic Congress (DC). Opposition parties unite to form a coalition for the following elections; ABC's Thomas Thabane becomes prime minister.

2014

Prime Minister Thabane suspends parliament. A military coup attempt sees Thabane fleeing to South Africa before the SANDF restores order in the country.

2015

Pakalitha Mosisili becomes prime minister at the head of a coalition formed after early elections.

2017

Prime Minister Mosisili loses early elections, Thomas Thabane returns to power. The head of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), Khoantle Mots'omots'o, is shot dead. A multinational security force known as SADC Preventive Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL) was deployed into Lesotho to ease tension.

2018

SAPMIL officially closed office after one year's deployment.

History of Peace Processes

Summary of Current Conflicts

At the centre of the current political crisis are the outcomes of the elections that took place in 2007, 2012, and 2015. There are a proliferation of opposition parties and elections that often fail to produce a clear winner with opposition parties regularly challenging the results. Following the 2012 elections, there were contestations within the coalition over the nature of the executive powers of the Prime Minister which plunged Lesotho into political instability. As a result, Basotho have recently expressed that the constitution should be amended to allow the King more say on issues of national importance, because the constitution has been ineffective in resolving political instability in Lesotho. The involvement of the security sector in the governance of the country has also played a significant role in contributing to the current political instability. The country still has a long way to go in transforming human rights conventions into the people’s everyday experience and culture. Although Lesotho has ratified and domesticated a number of international conventions that protect basic rights and freedoms, Amnesty International (2018) reported a ‘sharp increase’ in human rights violations as the country experienced prolonged political and security instability. Findings from the latest Afrobarometer survey shows that 75% of Basotho say the police routinely abuse or torture civilians in their custody. Basotho are increasingly terrified of the police, whom they accuse of torturing and killing with impunity.

Conflict Intervention

Maseru Facilitation Declaration

The Maseru Facilitation Declaration was facilitated by SADC and established that Lesotho would hold National General Elections in February 2015.

Maseru Security Accord

The Maseru Security Accord was concluded with the aid of SADC.

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