Basotho want more power to the King

Basotho want more power to the King

MASERU-TWO-THIRDS of Basotho want elections and Parliament abolished, with King Letsie III assuming all executive powers.

That is according to the findings of a survey conducted by Afrobarometer, a non-partisan survey research network focusing on Africa.
The results largely confirm the findings of Afrobarometer’s 2017 survey that revealed that 75 percent of Basotho wanted the King to “have more say on issues of national importance”.

Released this week, the survey shows that 66 percent or 1.3 million of the two million Basotho want the King to rule the country without Parliament or elections.
It says the King is the “most widely trusted leader or institution in Lesotho, trusted by about five times as many citizens as the Prime Minister”.

“These evaluations are recorded against a background of constant political instability, including government collapses resulting in three national elections in a space of five years and the destabilising of governance institutions,” the report says.

The survey, conducted in February and March, shows that the idea to give total power to the King is supported by 70 percent of the youngest respondents. Seven in every ten Basotho women favour the idea. Those who are not close to any political party show the same bias towards the idea.

“Only among those with post-secondary education do fewer than half (49 percent) favour the idea”.
The idea of giving total power to the King is more popular than democracy which is supported by 51 percent.

Curiously, one-party-rule system is more popular than democracy, with 55 percent in favour of it. Military-rule and one-man rule by a prime minister are third in popularity with the support of 23 percent each.
The survey shows that 71 percent of Basotho say they trust the King “somewhat” or “a lot”.

Only 20 percent said they trust the parliament. That is the same level of the public’s trust as the opposition parties.

The report also reveals that by the time he left office former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s approval rating had plummeted to a measly 14 percent. This is contrary to the popular narrative that the people still liked Thabane but hated his wife.

Thabane was however slightly more popular than his coalition government which was supported by 12 percent.
The survey says Basotho trust the army more than the police, the courts, Lesotho Revenue Authority and the anti-corruption unit. Only the King, the clergy and traditional leaders are trusted more than the army.

Afrobarometer provides data on African experiences as well as evaluations of democracy, governance and quality of life.
Its team in Lesotho is led by Advision Lesotho which interviewed 1 200 Basotho adults.

Staff Reporter

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