Lesotho's transition to democratic rule : an era of "fragile" democracy.
Many in Lesotho had hoped that the 1993 elections would restore democratic rule and establish the political stability that had eluded the country since independence. The post-1993 transition to democratic rule created more problems than was anticipated. The country gradually became involved in the devastating political crises that posed serious political implications for peace and stability (Gumbi, 1995:1). The primary objectives of this study are to disentangle the focal problems that faced Lesotho's re-established democratic dispensation after the 1993 elections and how these problems contributed to political instabilities until and after the 1998 election. The problems of the reestablished democratic dispensation and which undermined the process of democratic consolidation included the inability of the organs of the state to maintain law and order. There was an established culture within the army, the police and the National Security Services (NSS) which caused them to fail to offer adequate support to the fledging multiparty democracy in 1993.The principles of democracy and its institutions were poorly understood by Lesotho's political elite which was unable to accept the practical implications of the democratic system of governance. The BCP government was reluctant to reinstate the deposed King Moshoeshoe II and this hardened the relations between the government and the monarch. Ultimately, the monarchy and the Catholic Church became the political instruments that undermined the BCP-LCD governments. Society was highly polarized along political lines and there was a lack of political tolerance despite the homogeneous culture. The political crises were aggravated by the electoral model of FPTP after the 1993 and 1998 elections which denied the losing parties participation in decision-making because, the assumption of governmental power is seen as the most reliable source of economic power. There was an absence of interrelated national policies to consolidate the country's young democracy whilst the youth constituency rising unemployment levels was ignored. There has been a persistent mutual suspicion and distrust between the leaders due to the absence of political leadership with competence, integrity and commitment to the long term vision of Lesotho. These violent confrontations among the political elites were goaded by the weaknesses of Lesotho's economy which does not have the potential to attain the demands of the population. This situation was worsened by the increasing levels of retrenchments of migrant laborers from the South Africa mines. There has been a problem on lack of internal democracy which has hindered the consolidation of democracy. The study concludes with an application of Huntington's thesis that there is high level of political mobilization and participation in Lesotho whilst political institutionalization lags behind (1968:2). Though elections are regarded as the pinnacle of democracy, the 1993 and 1998 elections in Lesotho did not make any significant development in the consolidation of democracy. In fact, they deepened the political differences that had been in existence since independence. The country is now "caught" between the process of democratic transition and consolidation.