Foreign policy and defense
Lesotho is heavily dependent on South Africa
through its location, but relations have not always been
problem-free. The South African apartheid policy has
long been a source of tension between the two countries.
South Africa has also, on several occasions, directly or
indirectly taken measures that have affected Lesotho
domestic policy, and it has provoked bitter feelings.
When armed South African allies, at the request of
the head of the Lesotho government, entered Lesotho in
1998 in connection with a military revolt, many
Lesothians perceived it as an invasion attempt and
resorted to weapons themselves. Only in the spring of
1999 did the South African forces withdraw.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Lesotho for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
After the 2002 parliamentary elections, relations
improved and the countries now cooperate to lift Lesotho
out of poverty. Income from Lesotho miners in South
Africa is a significant part of the small country's
gross domestic product (GDP) and the vast majority of
imported goods are purchased from South Africa.
Lesotho's dependence on the surrounding country has
increased as a result of the recent sale of water to
South Africa through the large project Lesotho Highlands
Water Projects (see Natural Resources and Energy).
Lesotho is part of the South African Development
Community (SADC), which aims to foster economic
cooperation and coordinate the Member States' defense
efforts to strengthen security in the region.
Lesotho's armed forces are small, but the military
has, on several occasions, played a crucial role in the
domestic politics of power (see Modern History). A
comprehensive reform of the armed forces was therefore
initiated after the 2002 election.
FACTS - DEFENSE
2,000 men (2017)
The air Force
110 men (2015)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
2.2 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
3.9 percent (2017)
SADC is pushing for reforms
12th of August
The observer group from the regional cooperation
organization SADC led by South African Cyril Ramaphosa
recommends Lesotho's politicians to consider a number of
reforms regarding the constitution and the country's
security services in order to reduce the military's
influence over the policy. Prime Minister Pakalitha
Mosisili has previously said that he is ready to
implement such reforms. The opposition has also
expressed support for the idea. The SADC recommends,
among other things, a review of the rules for coalition
governments and the work of Parliament, as well as the
respective mandate of the police and military.
Furthermore, SADC proposes an examination of the legal
system and the situation of the media. The organization
also requires a transparent process for the adoption of
the requested reforms.
SADC investigates murder of army chief
The regional collaboration organization SADC decides
to investigate the murder of former army chief
Maaparankoe Mahao (see June 2015) and sends a group of
investigators to the capital Maseru.
New free trade agreement
Lesotho and 25 other countries agree on a new free
trade agreement, the Tripartite Free Trade Area
, which covers most of Africa between Egypt in the north
and South Africa in the south. However, before the
agreement can come into force, negotiations are required
and the agreement is approved by the parliaments of the
Former army chief is killed
Former Army Chief Mahao (see March 2015) is shot
dead. The deed takes place in full daylight. The
soldiers who shoot Mahao state that he set himself up
against them when they would arrest him, but this
information is rejected by a relative of Mahao who was
involved in the shooting. Later, Mahao's representative
as army chief, Tlali Kamoli, will be accused of being
behind the murder.
Former prime minister is fleeing
Thomas Thabane flies to Botswana. He claims to have
been hinted that there are plans to murder him.
New head of government and army chief
Pakalitha Mosisili, leader of the Democratic Congress
Party (DC) takes over as head of government. General
Tlali Kamoli is reinstated as Army Chief. Kamoli had
been deposed by Mosisili's representative Thomas Thabane
in August 2014 and replaced by Maaparankoe Mahao.
Following Kamoli's entry, Thabane's bodyguards and a
number of soldiers are arrested and tortured. They are
accused of having planned to overthrow the government
together with Mahao.
New elections and new government
In the recent election, incumbent Prime Minister
Thomas Thabane's Allbasothian Convention (ABC) party is
leading the election but misses first place with a
mandate. The largest will be the Democratic Congress
(DC), which also won the 2012 election, but which was
then placed outside the government (see May 2012).
Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) loses ground and
becomes significantly smaller than the other two. DC
leader Pakalitha Mosisili forms a coalition with LCD and
five smaller parties. Thus, the government controls 65
of Parliament's 120 seats. Mothetjoa Metsing from LCD
becomes Deputy Head of Government.
Attacks on presidential palace
One person is killed in a shooting drama outside the
government building. Those being shot are two bodyguards
for Prime Minister Thabane. They are injured but manage
while a passerby struck by a bullet dies. Thabane is in
another location when the attack takes place. It is not
immediately clear what is behind the attack, but it is
speculated that it is a revenge for the bodyguards to
have advised Thabane about the coup attempt in August