A few weeks back, everyone in my village was sitting outside, ears glued to their radios, listening to updates about the political situation in Lesotho. The Parliament had just reconvened, and they were in the process of taking a “vote of no confidence” against Prime Minister Mosisili of the DC (Democratic Congress) party.
The vote was successful, since Mosisili lost his majority support due to a new opposition coalition. This means that the PM will lose power after only 2 years of his 5-year term. The King of Lesotho called for a general election to replace him. That early election will determine not only the new PM, but also all 120 seats of the National Assembly. Voting is scheduled for June 3rd.
The last general election in Lesotho was also earlier than anticipated, due to a similar situation (but more dramatic – last time there was also an attempted coup). Lesotho has many (think 20+) political parties, and they are constantly coming together in different coalitions and vying for power.
Although it can seem like national politics don’t matter in my rural village – after all, we are hours of unpaved mountain roads away from the capital – people are definitely opinionated here. There are political party flags hanging around my village, and when you get people talking about the election, they have a lot to say.
I’ve been asking different folks in my village what they think about the upcoming election. Here are some of their (anonymous) thoughts:
- “I don’t like this election because it will cost too much money. I have a degree in teaching, but the government doesn’t have any grants remaining so there aren’t any jobs open for me to take. This election will mean even less teaching grants, so I still won’t be able to find a job.”
- “I’m glad we’re having an election because it shows that democracy in Lesotho is working.”
- “I have never voted before, but this time I have become interested in politics and I’m excited to vote.”
- “Lesotho is crazy. We will have an election every 2 years!”
- “It doesn’t matter who wins because all of the parties are corrupt.”
- “I support DC (Democratic Congress) Party because they were the ones to create the free primary education system.”
- “I support DC because they are in favor of democracy. Democracy is the most important thing for our government.”
- “I support BNP (Basotho National Party) because they built a lot of the infrastructure in our district, like the paved road from Maseru.”
- “I support ABC (All Basotho Congress). Mosisili has been in power for so long, and I want someone from ABC to be PM so I can compare them.”
- “I support ABC because their priority is fighting against corruption.”
And my personal favorite, presented without comment:
- “I wish Lesotho had only 2 political parties like America. Then our government would always work well like America’s government.”
I’ll try to post an update following the election on June 3 – let’s hope the next few months include a peaceful campaigning, voting, and transition period!