An unlikely success: South Africa and Lesotho's election of 2002

SOURCE: The Journal of Modern African Studies
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2003
TITLE AUTHOR(S): R.Southall
KEYWORDS: ELECTIONS, LESOTHO, SOUTH AFRICAN FOREIGN POLICY, ZIMBABWE
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 1983

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Abstract

The Mbeki government's failure to take action against the blatantly undemocratic behaviour of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, despite its commitment to the peer review mechanism proposed under the New Partnership for African Development, is highlighted by South Africa's armed intervention into Lesotho to quell post-electoral disturbances in 1998. Although initially accompanied by immense controversy, the South African military and diplomatic involvement was to prove crucial to a restructuring of Lesotho's previously recalcitrant Defence Force and to the promotion of inter-party negotiations that led to the adoption of a new and more appropriate electoral system. Alongside other international pressures, these initiatives led to a further election in 2002, whose undoubtedly legitimate outcome appears to have laid firm foundation for democratic consolidation and stability. Despite this 'unlikely success', And despite its formal commitment to an idealist foreign policy, the South African government has consciously downplayed its role in promoting democracy in Lesotho. The article argues that this is because of the exceptionality of that country, and South Africa's reluctance to have the use of force used as a precedent by its critics for cajoling it into adopting a more activist stance for dealing with the more complex situation in Zimbabwe.