Political rookie’s new party wins Lesotho vote but no majority

The All Basotho Convention party, which led the outgoing government, won only eight of 120 seats in parliament.

Lesotho Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro
Lesotho Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro arrives to cast his vote for the general elections at a polling station in Maseru [Molise Molise/AFP]

A new party led by a political rookie has won the most votes in Friday’s legislative elections in Lesotho but fell short of securing a parliamentary majority that could have ended a long-running political gridlock.

According to final results published by its electoral commission on Monday, the Revolution for Prosperity, a party set up only six months ago by millionaire businessman Sam Matekane, won 56 out of 120 seats in parliament.

For the past decade, the small Southern African state has been governed by a string of coalition governments that have proved fractious and frail, and no premier has served out a full five-year term.

Matekane, 64, who styles himself as a champion of the country’s business community and was considered an outsider in the vote, came close to an outright win but will now have to secure the support of smaller parties to form a government.

The Democratic Congress party led by Mathibeli Mokhothu came in second securing 29 lawmakers, according to the Independent Electoral Commission.

The All Basotho Convention party, which led the outgoing government, suffered a sharp drop in support, securing only eight seats.

Believed to be Lesotho’s richest man, Matekane started off raising donkeys before making a fortune in diamond mining and other business ventures.

Lesotho, completely surrounded by South Africa, ranks among the world’s poorest countries, with about a third of its 2.1 million people living on less than $1.90 a day.

A constitutional monarchy where the king has no formal power, Lesotho has long been beset by political turmoil that has hampered development.

Source: AFP