When the announcement on Thursday 31 May 2012 that Lesotho’s Pakalitha Mosisili, Prime Minister for 14 years was stepping down after failing to win an outright majority, the Basotho sighed with relief as democracy was being exercised in the Southern African kingdom. We Zimbabweans, however, could not help but wonder if this was possible for us.
Pakalitha Mosisili has led Lesotho through the Lesotho Congress for Democracy for the last 14 years, but he broke away from the party days before the elections to form the Democratic Congress Party. Mosisili will now be leading the opposition after his party failed to win a majority in parliament in elections held on the 23rd May.
Mosisili’s old party finished third in the election, and is now trying to form a coalition government with the All Basotho Convention, which finished second. Another coalition government is going to be formed in Southern Africa, but there seems to have a smooth transfer of power from one party to another in Lesotho. This is increasingly becoming the norm in sub-Saharan Africa.
Election observers praised Lesotho’s voting as largely calm and free and fair. Observers from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) , were quoted in the Standard as saying that they were impressed with the election and that Zimbabwe has a lot to learn from the kingdom. Zimbabwe formed a coalition government in 2008 after violent and disputed elections that is not working. Unlike Lesotho, Zimbabwe has a marriage of convenience and not a genuine coalition. Thus, elections must be held as soon as possible so that we get rid of the coalition.
Lesotho has shown political maturity; their elections were held peacefully, the Prime Minister conceded defeat, and the parties accepted the people’s decision. This is becoming a trend in Africa, as earlier this year, elections in Zambia and Senegal saw Rupiah Banda and Abdoulaye Wade respectively stepping down. Zimbabweans voted in 2008 and the people’s voice was ignored; should another election be held can the people’s voice be ignored again now that they have seen the success stories from across the continent? I have my doubts that this will happen when 2008 marches before us.
Hats off to the Basotho nation, for such a small country you are doing great things.