Lesotho polls to elect leader to tackle unemployment, crime

Oct 5, 2022, 4:42 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 4:46 am

MASERU, Lesotho (AP) — Voters across the picturesque mountain kingdom of Lesotho are heading to the polls Friday to elect a leader to find solutions to high unemployment and crime.

The southern African country of 2.1 million people has more than 60 registered political parties but the election is expected to be a three-way contest.

Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu of the Democratic Congress party is in a close race against his current coalition partner Nkaku Kabi of the All Basotho Convention and businessman-turned-politician Sam Matekane of the Revolution for Prosperity.

Lesotho’s King Letsie III presides over a constitutional monarchy but has virtually no political power. Whichever party wins enough representatives in Lesotho’s 120-seat National Assembly to form a government will select the new prime minister. With so many parties contesting the election, a coalition is very likely, say experts.

Amnesty International has urged all parties to uphold basic rights during and after the election.

“A dangerous pattern of human rights violations, including torture, unlawful killings, and excessive use of force by members of the security forces in Lesotho has been a common feature of the past five years under the current coalition government,” Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty’s director for East and Southern Africa, wrote last week.

“Political candidates vying for leadership positions, including parliamentary seats, in the upcoming general elections must make a commitment to put respect for human rights and accountability for past human rights violations front and center of their campaigns,” wrote Mwananyanda. “If elected, they must ensure access to justice and effective remedies for the victims of these human rights crimes.”

Election observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community are in Lesotho to assess the electoral process.

Of the three leading candidates, Matekane is the only one who has never been in government. A savvy multi-millionaire businessman, he claims he would best be able to tackle Lesotho’s unemployment. Matekane has promised to expand markets for garments manufactured in Lesotho and to diversify the products exported to the U.S. under the African Growth Opportunities Act trade concession.

The garment-making industry is Lesotho’s largest employer after the government and had more than 45,500 textile workers at the beginning of 2020, according to official statistics. But about 25% of those workers lost their jobs amid the global economic slump caused by COVID-19.

The scourge of crime is a pressing campaign issue. Lesotho suffered 41 murders per 100,000 people, Africa’s highest and considerably worse than the world average of 7 per 100,000, according to the World Population Review.

Whichever party wins power will have to adequately resource the entire law enforcement sector — from the police to the judiciary — to arrest suspects and prosecute the trials to finality, according to crime experts. Lesotho currently has a backlog of criminal cases estimated to be about 4,000 by senior judicial officials.

The traditional Famo music gangs are blamed for turf wars and violent shootings in Lesotho and neighboring South Africa where the gangs also are involved in illegal mining at abandoned sites.

One Famo gang leader, Sarele Sello, is wanted by South Africa’s police for the murder of 16 patrons at a Soweto tavern in July but that hasn’t kept him out of Lesotho’s political campaign. Earlier this week Sello was feted at a campaign rally in the capital, Maseru, and pledged his support for the All Basotho Convention party.

A new government will also be challenged to implement wide-ranging reforms to the judiciary, parliament and media which were recommended by the 16-nation Southern Africa Development Community ADC to end chronic political instability.

Lesotho’s subsistence farming practices must be improved to help end chronic food insecurity. About 320,000 people in Lesotho are currently experiencing a severe food “crisis” and are in urgent need of aid “to save lives, reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods and prevent acute malnutrition,” according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, based at the FAO offices in Rome.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


climate change...

Associated Press

2 lawsuits blame utility for eastern Washington fire that killed man and burned hundreds of homes

Two lawsuits have been filed against an electric utility for allegedly sparking a fire in eastern Washington that killed a man and burned approximately 240 homes.

21 hours ago

Seattle non-profits...

Associated Press

Oregon man convicted of murder in fatal shooting of sheriff’s deputy in Washington state

A jury has convicted an Oregon man of murder in the fatal shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Washington state.

2 days ago

Image: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd during a campaign rally on Monday, Sept...

Associated Press

Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers while building real estate empire

A judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House.

2 days ago

FILE - The Amazon logo is displayed, Sept. 6, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon's profitable clo...

Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon sued by FTC and 17 states over allegations it inflates online prices and overcharges sellers

The FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday, alleging the e-commerce behemoth uses its position in the marketplace to inflate prices

3 days ago

KYIV, UKRAINE - 2022/09/03: A man looks at an image generated based on the stories of displaced chi...

Associated Press

Tech companies try to take AI image generators mainstream with better protections against misuse

Artificial intelligence tools that can conjure whimsical artwork or realistic-looking images from written commands started wowing the public last year. But most people don't actually use them at work or home.

3 days ago

Image: Actor David McCallum attends an event for "NCIS" during the 2009 Monte Carlo Television Fest...

Associated Press

David McCallum, star of hit series ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘NCIS,’ dies at 90

Actor David McCallum, who was the eccentric medical examiner in the popular "NCIS," has died. He was 90.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Lesotho polls to elect leader to tackle unemployment, crime