Long live  the King, say Basotho

Long live the King, say Basotho

MASERU – IN an emphatic endorsement of the monarchy a recent survey has revealed that seven in every ten Basotho trust the King more than the government with its various apparatus. Conducted by Afrobarometer, a non-partisan research network, the survey also shows that three quarters of Basotho favour a constitutional amendment that gives the King more power.

Currently most of the executive powers reside with the prime minister who runs the government and makes most of the crucial decisions. The survey results come at a time when Lesotho is working on multi-sectoral reforms to deal with the political instability that have blighted the country in recent years. The massive endorsement of the King could be an indication that people are losing confidence in politicians who they widely see as the cause of the country’s political, social and economic problems in the country.

In the past politicians have been accused of using the King to endorse their political schemes. Under the constitution the King has no power to veto any decision by the government. That has reduced him into a rubberstamp of sorts. The Afrobarometer survey shows that the majority wants that to change.  The results also show that Basotho overwhelmingly support and trust the King irrespective of gender, education, place of residence, age or political affiliation.

Libuseng Malephane, Director of Advision Lesotho, the local Afrobarometer partner, said the survey was conducted late last year. Its purpose, Malephane said, is to give a glimpse of what ordinary Basotho think about various events so that political leaders make informed decisions. Malephane said apart from informing decision-makers such surveys can also help improve communication. “It can help us in introspection and improve our efforts or communicate them better so that the public is fully aware of what we are doing and why we are doing that,” Malephane said. The survey revealed that 59 percent of Basotho trust religious leaders while 57 percent have faith in the prime minister.

Basotho also trust their chiefs (53 percent) more than the courts (49 percent), the Independent Electoral Commission (48 percent) and the parliament (48 percent). They also trust the police (44 percent) more that the army (41 percent). It might stun opposition parties that only 22 percent of the people trust the opposition compared to 47 percent for the ruling coalition. The Afrobarometer team in Lesotho interviewed 1 200 adult Basotho between November 25 and December 10 last year.

Rothe MP Mohapi Mohapinyane said the numbers are an indication that the public is losing trust in politicians. “Since 2012 we have had three elections and perhaps people are getting tired of it and this calls for introspection amongst us as politicians,” Mohapinyane said. The survey results, he added, came at the right time when the country is about to embark on reforms.

Retired Professor Kopano Makoa said those who say the king should be given more power say “should think clearly about the implications of that”.

“One of them is that he will have to be accountable as every responsibility comes with one and he will be open for criticism”.

Staff Reporter

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