The Never-ending Story of Law and Electoral System in Lesotho

  • Hoolo Nyane National University of Lesotho
Keywords: Electoral system, electoral law, Lesotho, constitution, election


While electoral discontent has been the enduring feature of constitutional democracy in Lesotho since independence, disagreement over electoral system is a fairly recent phenomenon. When the country attained independence in 1966 from Britain, electoral system was not necessarily one of the topical issues of pre-independence constitutional negotiations. The major issues were the powers of the monarch, the office of prime minister, the command of the army and many more.  It was taken for granted that the country would use the British-based plurality electoral system.  This is the system which the country used until early 2000s when the electoral laws were reformed to anchor a new mixed electoral system.  When the new electoral laws were ultimately passed in 2001, the country transitioned from a plurality electoral system to a two-ballot mixed member proportional system. By this time, electoral system had acquired prominence in politico-legal discourse in Lesotho.  In the run-up to 2007 elections, bigger political parties orchestrated the manipulation of electoral laws which culminated in clearly distorted electoral outcomes. The manipulations motivated further reforms in the run-up to 2012 election which resulted in the single-ballot mixed member proportional system. The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate how electoral laws have anchored electoral system reforms throughout the various historical epochs in Lesotho since independence. The paper contends that while the country has been courageous, unlike most of its peers, to introduce far-reaching electoral system changes, the reform of electoral laws has not been so helpful in attaining the higher objectives of political inclusivity, constitutionalism and stability in Lesotho.