There are ominous trends in Lesotho, where Prime Minister Tom Thabane has vowed to implement long-delayed reforms but finds himself mired in internecine political battles that add to the small southern African kingdom’s instability.
Last week, defense minister Sentje Lebona resigned – the second minister to do so, and one of five cabinet members to leave since February. Three days before, Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara was suspended following a litany of complaints.
Khahliso Soro, a procurement officer in Home Affairs, was found dead last Friday in what police investigated as a homicide – though some reports say he was suicidal after he was required to testify for three days on expenditures tied to a celebration for King Letsie III.
In August, tourism minister Motlohi Maliehe – chair of Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) – was fired after complaining that the prime minister’s wife, Maesaiah, interfered in government affairs. That’s caused a rift that’s been compared to Zimbabwe’s political situation with Robert and Grace Mugabe, leading to the end of Mugabe’s tenure and the rise of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
And on Thursday, security analysts at Jane’s warned that Lesotho is at risk of a new military coup.
The developments come amid uncertainty over the continued presence of Southern African Development Community (SADC) peacekeeping forces slated to leave in November. The SAPMIL force has served a year in Lesotho, which includes a previous extension of an original mandate that ran through May. Angola, which has led the SAPMIL mission, turned it over to Zambia on Thursday.
The SADC has warned that Lesotho must implement a roadmap process focused on four sectors: constitutional reform, security sector, public service and media.
Image: All Basotho Convention