News / Africa

SADC, Lesotho Leaders to Discuss Political Crisis

A worker hangs posters displaying newspaper headlines in Lesotho's capital, Maseru, Aug. 31, 2014.
A worker hangs posters displaying newspaper headlines in Lesotho's capital, Maseru, Aug. 31, 2014.
VOA News

The prime minister of the southern African kingdom of Lesotho, who fled what he called an attempted coup, is in South Africa to discuss recent unrest in his country.

Thomas Thabane accused Lesotho's Deputy Prime Minster Mothetjoa Metsing, who is now in charge of the country, of orchestrating the unrest.

Regional ministers of the Southern African Development Community were to meet Sunday with Thabane and Metsing to resolve the political stalemate that led to the alleged coup over the weekend, SADC executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax said.

FILE - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends a European Union-Africa summit in Brussels, Apr. 2, 2014.FILE - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends a European Union-Africa summit in Brussels, Apr. 2, 2014.
x
FILE - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends a European Union-Africa summit in Brussels, Apr. 2, 2014.
FILE - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends a European Union-Africa summit in Brussels, Apr. 2, 2014.

Tax said calm appears to have returned to Lesotho after gunshots were heard when military police surrounded government buildings and Thabane's official resident during an alleged coup attempt Saturday in the capital, Maseru.

“We have intervened by encouraging the leaders to resolve their differences in a democratic manner. We are encouraging them to ensure that everything goes back to normal and that is happening. The situation has normalized now,” Tax said.

Alleged coup attempt

Thabane, who fled with his family to neighboring South Africa after receiving intelligence that he was the target of a military assassination attempt, described the unrest as a coup attempt.

However, military spokesman Major Ntlele Ntoi said the military was trying to secure the country before a mass anti-government demonstration scheduled for Monday.

"What happened this morning was that the command of the Lesotho Defense Force was acting after receiving several intelligence reports that amongst the police service, there are some elements who are actually planning to arm some of the political, party political youth fanatics who were on the verge of wrecking havoc," Ntoi said.

U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon has called for respect for the constitutional order and democratic rule.

In a statement Sunday, Ban welcomed efforts by the SADC, the Commonwealth and other partners in Lesotho to support the restoration of trust among members of the government.

The United States called for a "peaceful dialogue" and respect for the democratic process in the kingdom.

'Want my neck'

In a phone interview with VOA, Thabane said the situation involved "total indiscipline" in the army. He said soldiers were "running around the streets, threatening people" and "quite openly stating that they want my neck."

Thabane accused a former top military commander of leading the unrest. He said he would return to his country as soon as he knew he "was not going to get killed."

Military officials in Lesotho, a country of about 2 million people, have denied plotting a coup.

Thabane told VOA the attempt to overthrow his administration stemmed from his fight to root out corruption in Lesotho. He urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help restore order.

A South African government spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said no one is claiming leadership in Lesotho. However, he said the military's actions have the markings of a putsch.

"Although no one has claimed to have taken over government through the use of force, by all accounts the activities of the Lesotho defense force thus far bear the hallmarks of a coup d'etat," he said.

A rocky recent history

The mountainous kingdom, surrounded by South Africa, has repeatedly been beset by political instability since gaining independence in 1966. Until then it had been a British protectorate known as Basutoland.

A peaceful election in 2012 produced a three-party coalition government that many observers hoped would bring lasting stability — but the fragile government reportedly collapsed several months ago.

In June, South Africa had issued a stern warning to Lesotho after the prime minister suspended parliament in what appeared to be an attempt to dodge a no-confidence vote.

Instability is inherent in Lesotho’s political system, said Tom Wheeler, a former South African diplomat who is now an independent analyst.

"Well, I suppose the problem is it’s a democracy," Wheeler said, noting that coalition partners and the opposition disagreed "with what the prime minister is doing, and therefore have pulled the plug on the coalition. And I think that’s the cause of the instability.

"This man who’s the prime minister is a democratically elected person from a not-majority party, and that sort of instability is built into the system."

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy with a king whose powers are largely ceremonial.

South Africa’s role

Wheeler said South Africans should not be overly concerned about upheaval in the enclave, despite their history of armed intervention in Lesotho's previous political crises.

"It’s not going be a big issue," he said, recalling that in 1998, Mangosuthu Buthelezi — a tribal leader who’d held senior positions in the African National Congress — was South Africa’s acting president while Nelson Mandela was abroad.

He sent an SADC force to Lesotho to try to prevent a coup. The troops “were repulsed by the Lesotho army. It was a great embarrassment to South Africa,” Wheeler said.

"So I think we would stand back and say, ‘Get on with it, boys, it’s not our problem,’ and not be worried about it."

VOA's English to Africa service contributed to this report. Anita Powell contributed reporting from Johannesburg.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: molumo r from: maseru roma
September 03, 2014 4:15 AM
The situation lesotho is not as bad as people assume the only thing that's making situations worse is social media # democracy is the worst form of governence

by: Solomon from: Maseru, LSO
September 01, 2014 5:57 PM
The situations were or are still unfavourable, but I too wish that SADC should just give some advices not to come as on 1998 whereby our country's economy was also affected. Way forward,I wish that PM & DPM settle all their issues.

by: Anonymous
September 01, 2014 4:48 PM
Thank u presidant Zuma continue to be a fear mediator

by: Phoka from: Maseru Lesotho
August 31, 2014 3:30 PM
I totally dislike what happened because the military actions in Saturday are politically influenced and the world in not given the truth, any mediation from abroad is going to couse a bloodshed.More Basotho are going to starve.Those leaders must think of Basotho not their wealth.

by: Kim Lony Gatluak from: South Sudan
August 31, 2014 11:37 AM
Why Africa? Be come most corruption Nation in the world
is't lack of politcal.
Like youngest nation South Sudan which start fightings last year . The president of Repubilc of South Sudan Salva Kiir Who kill Naath Nuer tribe with tribals
and as he is still president why he isn't step down to get peace in country.
May God bless all africa nation to be in peace,

fine me with my e-mail Adress
kimlony2014@gmail.com

by: Raphael mphezulu from: Maseru lesotho
August 31, 2014 10:57 AM
There is peace and staability in the country now, the Prime ministers tough stance on corruption does not sit well with LCD leaders and opposition party (DC) let by Pakalitha Mosisili, hence why there Lesotho defence force is behaving in this manner led by General Kamoli who was appointed by previous prime minister, the General and a certain faction in the military are protecting those who put them in power,

by: Smitha from: Usa
August 31, 2014 7:45 AM
I was born and brought up in this beautiful country Lesotho and still frequently visit it.Its true that they had an issue like this in 1998 but There has otherwise never been instability in this country.Most of the people here have good access to food water and all basic needs.Most of them are educated and have good jobs.The Basotho people are also some of the most kindest and loving people in the whole world.The writer of this article needs to first get his facts straight before just writing that the country is always having instability .Lesotho is one of the most beautiful places on earth and I can't wait to go back to visit this little heaven on earth

by: maj gen ranvir yadav from: delhi, india
August 31, 2014 7:33 AM
I was Security Advisor cum Team Leader of Indian Army Training Team (IATT) in the country. In 2000 on the request of kingdom of lesotho IATT started the process of depoliticisation of LDF and training them as professional Army. I was present during 2007 peaceful elections. Post elections the present PM was opposition leader and he did try to destabilise the then Govt but failed as situation was deftly handled.
Post 2012 appointing a 45 years old immature officer as LDF Commander is part of the problem. It is due to present PMs fault that situation as come to this stage.
In Response

by: eric
September 01, 2014 11:04 AM
Yes General you are right in this respect - however depoliticization
doesn't always work, Zimbabwe is a classic point where the intergration process failed and the 5th Brigade trained by the North Koreans came into being and the rest you know was "History".

by: AMB June Carter Perry,ret from: Washington, DC
August 30, 2014 6:00 PM
Having served as the U.S. ambassador to Lesotho (2004-2007), I believe to simply suggest to let South Africa and Lesotho "go at it," is an irresponsible statement. The country has made significant strides in the health and business areas. Democracy and rule of law do not develop overnight in any country. Lesotho needs mediation from Botswana as well as Western allies. Surely, this small but key nation can overcome this situation in a peaceful manner.
In Response

by: billy bob from: South Africa
August 31, 2014 5:30 PM
I don't think he meant let SA and Lesotho have a war. Think its a typo and he said let Lesotho sort out their problems, i.e south africa should not get involved.
In Response

by: You think?
August 31, 2014 12:20 PM
Its amazing that even in this age, you still feel you have the moral obligation to have the West just bulldoze and intervene. You always see the world in your eyes, in which you are always right and always understand every situation.

Support existing African structures like SADC and AU.
In Response

by: martin
August 31, 2014 12:04 AM
Agreed, unfortunately Ambassador, this is Africa, where in the past, both the UN and the West have failed to uphold and support good governance in well known African countries, where genocide has occurred and the justice system ? has collapsed. Mediation for those countries is now history and research can confirm this, sad but very true.
In Response

by: michael lutz from: USA
August 30, 2014 8:55 PM
the Basotho people are some of the kindest and hospitable people in the world. I've been working there for five years and have never considered it "unstable". yes they are struggling with those few with power. but pretty much everyone there has access to food-shelter-clothing. more than I can say for much of the west and africa. I wouldn't hesitate to go back there tomorrow and probably will later this year.

by: Eugene from: RSA
August 30, 2014 3:40 PM
The problem with Africa, including Lesotho is that the leadership are for themselves they're greedy politicians and do not understand the need for people to be developed and educated Thus the fruits of their greed remains a continious struggle for power a democratic system just cannot work.
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs