Politics and Economy of Lesotho

State structure and political system of Lesotho

Lesotho is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The Constitution of 1993 is in force. Administratively, it is divided into 10 districts (Berea, Buta-Bute, Leribe, Mafeteng, Maseru, Mohales-Huk, Mokot-long, Kacha-Nek, Kuting, Taba-Tseka). Major cities: Maseru, Leribe, Mafeteng. Check cancermatters for political system of Lesotho.

The head of state is King Letsie III, who has no legislative or executive power. Legislative power is vested in the Parliament, which consists of the National Assembly and the Senate. The supreme body of executive power is the government headed by the prime minister. Speaker of the National Assembly – N. Motsamai. Prime Minister – P. Mosisili.

The National Assembly is elected in general elections for 5 years and consists of 80 deputies. 50 of them are elected in districts, and 30 – in proportion to the votes received in the elections by political parties. The Senate consists of 22 traditional chiefs and 11 members appointed by the king. The National Assembly elects the Prime Minister, who forms the government. The Prime Minister is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The executive power in the districts is the municipalities, they are elected by the population.

The most prominent statesman was Moses I (c. 1786-1870), who created the state of Lesotho and proved himself to be a talented military leader and diplomat.

The multi-party political system includes 8 parties, of which the largest are: the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, the Basotho Congress Party, the Basotho National Party.

Leading business organization: Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Public organizations: Conference of Catholic Priests of Lesotho, Congress of Free Trade Unions of Lesotho, General Union of Lesotho Workers.

Domestic policy is aimed at easing the internal political tension that caused the crisis of 1998 and rebuilding the center of the capital, destroyed as a result of looting and arson of shops.

In foreign policy, priority is given to strengthening relations with South Africa and other SADC members.

The number of the army was 2 thousand people. (1999). Defense spending $34 million.

Lesotho has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR in 1980).

Economy of Lesotho

As an enclave of South Africa, Lesotho is in complete economic dependence on it. In 2001, GDP amounted to 5.3 billion US dollars, i.e. $2,450 per capita. In 1990-2000, GDP growth averaged 3.7% per year, in 2002 – 2.9%. The economically active population is 864 thousand people, of which 327 thousand are employed in agriculture. Unemployment 45% (2000). 17% of the able-bodied male population goes to work in South Africa. The export of labor to South Africa provides the main foreign exchange earnings. Inflation 6.9% (2001). Sectoral structure of GDP (%): agriculture 18, industry 38, services 44. GDP structure by employment (%): agriculture 38, industry 30, services 28.

The manufacturing industry is represented by the textile industry and many small enterprises: carpet weaving, food processing, shoe factories, garment factories, a tire manufacturing and retreading enterprise, an electric lamp factory, a TV assembly factory, factories for the manufacture of candles, ceramics, furniture, explosives, fertilizers, cutting diamonds and semi-precious stones, jewelry workshops, etc. The mining industry is represented by diamond mining, which is carried out by individual miners and cooperatives.

Lesotho’s agriculture is unable to feed its own population. The main food crops are corn, under which 60% of arable land is occupied, and sorghum (30%). Grain harvest 148 thousand tons (2000). We have to import 80-160 thousand tons of grain. Animal husbandry is export-oriented. Sheep wool and mohair are the largest agricultural exports. The number of cattle – 520 thousand, goats and sheep – 2 million.

Maseru is connected by a 2.6 km long railway line with South African railways. The length of roads is 5 thousand km, of which 887 km are paved (1996). There are 4 airports and 20 airstrips. 16-18 thousand passengers are transported annually.

Fixed telephones 22.2 thousand, mobile – 33 thousand (2001). There are 4 radio stations and 1 TV station. 5 thousand people use the Internet. (2002).

Domestic trade is in private hands, with a large part of the wholesale owned by South African firms.

Tourists are attracted by beautiful mountain landscapes. Every year the country is visited by 300 thousand foreigners. Income from tourism – more than 20 million dollars.

The economic and social policy of the government is aimed at attracting foreign investment and creating new jobs. The government has created favorable conditions for foreign capital: a low tax on corporations (15%), exemption from duties on equipment imports, the abolition of tax on dividends when exporting foreign currency from the country, low water and electricity fees, etc. In the agricultural sector, the main problem has become the fight against land erosion.

Lesotho’s monetary system is tied to South Africa by an agreement on a common currency area – the rand zone. Formally, the Central Bank of Lesotho has the right to set the exchange rate of its currency, the discount rate, but in fact they are adjusted by the Reserve Bank of South Africa. 1 loti is equal to 1 rand, and its rate changes along with the rate of the rand; The rand is in circulation in the country on a par with the national currency.

The state budget is chronically in deficit. In 2002/03, revenues of $76 million are planned, including an IMF “stabilization” loan, and expenditures of $80 million, including the capital investment budget (15 million). Main sources of income: deductions from the general customs duties of the South African Customs Union (SACU) and taxes on remittances of migrant workers from abroad. In 2000, for the first time in Lesotho’s history, VAT was introduced on purchased goods. Foreign exchange reserves $382 million, external public debt $715 million (2001).

Living standards do not appear to have improved in the past 10 years. Most of the population subsists on subsistence agriculture. The wages of those employed in the formal sector have almost tripled since 1990, but the consumer price index has risen to the same extent. Bank deposits have not grown since 1997, remaining at the level of 820-840 million loti.

Membership in the SACU and the absence of customs posts on the border with South Africa allow us to give only approximate estimates of foreign trade turnover. In 2001, imports amounted to 720 million US dollars. Exports typically exceed imports by a factor of 5 if labor “exports” are not taken into account. Main exports: garments, shoes, sheep wool and mohair. Main import items: foodstuffs, machinery and vehicles, oil products.

Science and culture

Roma is home to the University of Lesotho and the Institute for South African Studies. In Maseru, the Geological Survey conducts scientific work with several field branches. There are two major libraries in Maseru and Roma. Significant fiction has been created in the Sesuto language. The novel of the founder of literature in the Sesuto language T. Mofolo “Chaka” is world famous.

Politics of Lesotho