A gendered assessment of the Lesotho 2002 election results

Victoria da Silva, EISA Researcher, June 19, 2002


In Lesotho's previously elected National Assembly (1998 - 2002) there was a 3.8% representation of women, an allocation of 3 out of a total of 80 seats. They were from the thirteen (13) parties.

The newly elected National Assembly (2002) has increased this percentage to 7.6%, with nine women appointed to the National Assembly from a total of 118 seats. These percentages unfortunately are still short of the 30% minimum gender representation target proposed by the 1997 Southern African Development Community (SADC) Declaration on Gender and Development, which all SADC member states, except Swaziland, signed. There is still however a window of opportunity, not only for Lesotho, but also for other SADC countries to improve their current records as the deadline for the implementation of the policy was set for 2005. The doubling of the number of women represented in the 2002 Lesotho National Assembly is due to various factors. Some of these include:

  1. The awareness by political parties that women need to be promoted as candidates for public office. Members of the IPA noted the under-representation of women candidates as one of their concerns in the pre election deliberations;
  2. the empowerment of women through their entry into various sectors of the economy and public service;
  3. the introduction of the Mixed Member Proportional electoral system (MMP) which made provision for both constituencies (80) and proportional representation lists (40 compensatory seats) thus increasing the chances of women to be represented in the national assembly;
  4. the placing of women on the party list; and
  5. general voter education about the necessity for broad representation in the national assembly, not only of parties but also of different sectors of the society.

The increased number of successful women candidates in the May 2002 National Assembly elections is reflected in Tables 1 and 2 below.

Constituency Elections

A total of 105 women candidates contested the 78 constituency seats (two constituency elections were not held due to the death of the candidates). Out of 1 117 candidates, 9.4% were women of which 0.72% were successfully elected. All eight (8) candidates were from the ruling party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). The LCD fielded eight women candidates out of a total of 78 candidates, the Lesotho Peoples' Congress (LPC) four, and the Basotho National Party (BNP) fielded six women candidates. The Lesotho Labour Party/United Democratic Party Alliance (LLP/UDP) fielded the greatest percentage of women candidates, that is 47% (out of a total of 17 candidates, eight candidates were women). The Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), however, fielded the largest number of women candidates, 16 in all, in seven of the country's 10 districts. None of the opposition parties' women candidates managed to be elected in their constituencies.

Constituency Elections

Political party No women out of total candidates % Women candidates
Lesotho Labour Party/United Democratic Party Alliance (LLP/UDP) 8 of 17 47%
Christian Democratic Party (CDP) 7 of 18 39%
New Lesotho Freedom Party (NLFP) 9 of 25 36%
Lesotho Workers' Party (LWP) 10 of 37 27%
Sefate Democratic Union (SDU) 5 of 20 25%
Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) 16 of 71 23%
National Progressive Party (NPP) 10 of 49 20%
Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) 9 of 66 14%
Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) 8 of 78 10%
United Party (UP) 1 of 11 9%
Basotho National Party (BNP) 6 of 78 8%
Basutoland African Congress (BAC) 6 of 73 8%
Lesotho Peoples' Congress (LPC) 4 of 77 5%
Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) 2 of 60 3%
Independent 1 of 32 3%
KopanangBasotho Party (KBP) 0 of 4 0%
National Independent Party (NIP) 0 of 10 0%
Social Democratic Party (SDP) 0 of 0 0%
Total 102 of 726 14%