TOPSHOT - Lesotho Defense Force patrols the town of Maseru on April 18, 2020. - Lesotho's embattled prime minister Tom Thabane…
FILE - Members of the Lesotho Defense Force patrol the town of Maseru, April 18, 2020.

JOHANNESBURG - Hopes are high across politically fractious Lesotho as Moeketsi Majoro, the nation's finance minister, prepares to become prime minister.

His swearing in, scheduled for Wednesday, comes after two years of bitter political squabbles in the tiny mountain kingdom surrounded on all sides by South Africa.

"I think he is a good guy," politician Motlalentoa Letsosa, deputy leader of the Democratic Congress, the main opposition party, told VOA via WhatsApp. "He has been in the government administration for quite a long time. He was once the principal secretary for the same ministry of finance, where he is now the minister. He was also the minister of development and planning, and now he is going to be the prime minister.

"And remember, he worked at IMF for quite a long time. So he's a gentleman who is familiar with the Lesotho political landscape and international politics, especially when it comes to financial international politics. So I think he's going to take our country forward."

Letsosa's party will join a coalition with Majoro's ruling All Basotho Convention — a move that, just months ago, would have been thought impossible in the nation's deeply divided political landscape.

Thabane's resignation

FILE - Lesotho's Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, left, and his wife Maesaiah are seated in court, in Maseru, Feb. 24, 2020.

This new political dispensation comes after months of bitter political wrangling to force Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to resign, which he did in May. His rule has been marred by a number of killings of high-ranking officials in recent years. Critics say that is an inevitable consequence of Thabane's failure to keep the nation's security forces out of politics.

Thabane and his current wife are also suspects in the 2017 killing of one of his former wives, an issue that riveted the nation in recent months.

Thabane was not offered immunity from prosecution in return for stepping down. And so, says Motlamelle Anthony Kapa, an associate professor in political science at the National University of Lesotho, the nation will have to clean up that legal issue before it can move on.

"We are expecting both of them to appear before the courts to hear the case of the murder of his former wife," Kapa told VOA on the WhatsApp platform.

Coronavirus pandemic

Letsosa says he also has high expectations for the new leader regarding his handling of the global coronavirus pandemic.

"Lesotho has one case to date, but we are not going to be complacent and say we are immune to this. No one is immune. So we are expecting that he will take the fight to another level to make sure that this one case does not multiply," Letsosa said. "Another thing which is so important is our national economy. Our economy is struggling and he has been the minister of finance, he knows that."

Kapa agrees, and notes that this is an unusual moment for the tiny country which, despite its size, is a major global wool and mohair supplier.

"I must indicate this is the first time we have a prime minister coming like this. And there are a lot of expectations on him and his government to take the country out of the crisis that it has been in the last two, two and half years or so," Kapa said. "People are excited, they are now waiting to see what is going to happen, this government is going to do differently from the one that he's replacing."

The new government is expected to be sworn in by the end of the week.