Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Politics of Lesotho

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Capital  Maseru
Prime minister  Pakalitha Mosisili
King  Letsie III of Lesotho
Politics of Lesotho httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons44
Government  Unitary state, Constitutional monarchy, Parliamentary system

Politics of Lesotho takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister of Lesotho is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of Parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.


Map of Lesotho

Executive branch

The Lesotho Government is a constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, is head of government and has executive authority. The King serves a largely ceremonial function; he no longer possesses any executive authority and is proscribed from actively participating in political initiatives. According to the constitution, the leader of the majority party in the assembly automatically becomes prime minister; the monarch is hereditary, but, under the terms of the constitution which came into effect after the March 1993 election, the monarch is a "living symbol of national unity" with no executive or legislative powers; under traditional law the college of chiefs has the power to determine who is next in the line of succession, who shall serve as regent in the event that the successor is not of mature age, and may even depose the monarch.

Legislative branch

Parliament has two chambers. The National Assembly has 120 members, elected for a five-year term, 80 in single-seat constituencies and 40 by proportional representation. The Senate has 33 nominated members.

Political parties and elections

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) won the majority in parliament in the 23 May 1998 general elections, leaving the once-dominant Basotho National Party (BNP) and Basotholand Congress Party (BCP) far behind in total votes. Although international observers as well as a regional commission declared the elections to have reflected the will of the people, many members of the opposition have accused the LCD of electoral fraud. The 1998 elections were the third multiparty elections in Lesotho's history. The LCD, BNP, and BCP remain the principal rival political organizations in Lesotho. Distinctions and differences in political orientation between the major parties have blurred in recent years.

Nevertheless, after political riots following the disputed 1998, an all-party forum called the Interim Political Authority was formed to level ground for the next poll. It proposed the restructuring of the Independent Electoral Commission, which happened and the change of the model from pure First-Past-the-Post System to Mixed Member Proportional Representation.

In the 25 May 2002 general elections, the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy was re-elected by majority, winning all but one of the 80 constituency-based seats. 40 compensatory seats under the Proportional Representation were shared among nine opposition parties.

LCD was re-elected in the 2007 elections but lost power after the 2012 elections to a coalition headed by the All Basotho Convention.

Judicial branch

The constitution provides for an independent heirarchichal judicial system. The judiciary is made up of the High Court of Lesotho, the Court of Appeal, magistrate's courts, and traditional (customary) courts which exist predominantly in rural areas. There is no trial by jury; rather, judges make rulings alone, or, in the case of criminal trials, with two other judges as observers. The constitution also protects basic civil liberties, including freedom of speech, association, and the press; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of religion.

The Court of Appeal is located in Maseru and consists of a President and 6 justices of Appeal.

The High Court has unlimited original jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters, as well as appellate jurisdiction from the lower courts and comprises a Chief Justice and other puisne judges. Parallel to the High Court is the Labour Court, which is a specialist court dealing exclusively with industrial and labour matters.

Magistrates Courts are presided over by judicial officers (magistrates) employed as civil servants. They are not courts of record and as such their decisions are not binding on future cases.

The Chief Justice and Justices of the Court of Appeal are appointed by the King on the advice of the Prime Minister. Puisne judges of the High Court are appointed by the King on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. High Court judges may retire any time after attaining the age of 75 but may be removed from office by the King for malfeasance or infirmity.

Chief Justices
  • c. 1968–>1970 Hendrik Rudolf Jacobs (South African)
  • 1974–1975 Joas Tseliso Mapetla
  • 1976–?1986 Taufik Suliman Cotran (afterwards Chief Justice of Belize, 1986)
  • 1987–1991 Brendan Peter Cullinan
  • <1994–2002 Joseph Lebona Kheola
  • 2002–2004 Mahapela Lelohla
  • 2004 Baptista Molai (acting)
  • 2013 Tseliso Monaphathi (acting)
  • 2014 Nthomeng Majara
  • Administrative divisions

    For administrative purposes, Lesotho is divided into 10 districts, each headed by a district secretary and a district military officer appointed by the central government and the RLDF, respectively. The districts are: Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Mafeteng, Maseru, Mohales Hoek, Mokhotlong, Qacha's Nek, Quthing, Thaba-Tseka

    International organization participation

    Lesotho is member of ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, SACU, SADC, United Nations, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO


  • K. Matlosa Electoral System Design and Conflict Mitigation: the Case of Lesotho // Democracy, Conflict and Human Security
  • References

    Politics of Lesotho Wikipedia

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