The rise and fall of the first coalition government in Lesotho: 2012 – 2014
Moseme, Tumelo T. L.
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English: This study examines the changing scenery in Lesotho’s political landscape since 2012. The May 2012 general election in Lesotho produced a hung parliament that necessitated a coalition government for the first time since the country’s 1966 independence. The occurrence of coalition governments has been rare in Africa, making Lesotho one of a few existing examples that can be studied comparatively, explanatorily or in an explorative manner. This study focuses on how the coalition was formed, the coalition arrangements of power sharing between the parties, the governance implications resulting from these arrangements, reasons for the collapse of this coalition, and the lessons that could be learnt from this experience. With these, the study attempts to create an understanding of political decisions that shaped the first coalition government in Lesotho as well as the impact of ideological differences on the nature and tenure of the coalition. Constitutions and electoral manifestoes of the 2012 coalition partners are analysed using game theory, coalition and government formation models. The coalescing parties are also analysed through different models of political party classification. The findings suggest that the power sharing arrangements agreed upon between coalition partners were based on proportions resulting from electoral results and that they were reduced to a written agreement. The manifestation of these power sharing arrangements took the form of a caucus of leaders as the ultimate guide, allocation of cabinet and other senior political positions to the coalition partners as well as block voting in parliament, informed by interparty consultations, inclusion of policies from all coalition partners, accounting through public dissemination of information, while conflict resolution was entrusted to a Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee. Seen from governance perspective, these coalitional arrangements had the following implications: clear steering authority, legislative coalition, equitable sharing of payoffs, inclusive policy gains, a semblance of accountability; and coalitional effectiveness, trust and transparency. Lesotho’s experience indicates that lack of legal status for coalition agreements and the structures they establish make for a weak institutional basis for governance. This, combined with ideological differences between coalition partners, rendered the partnership untenable in the long run. The study recommends that ideological differences between potential coalition partners as reflected by their policies, should be translated into programme of action that could be pursued by the resultant government; preparations for coalition formation should be made well in advance due to time constraints between the election results and government formation; status of coalition agreements and the structures they establish as well as their powers, should be defined in law.
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