Government

The Kingdom of Lesotho is a constitutional democracy. Shortly after a return to multi-party democracy in 1993 the present constitution came into force. A constitutional amendment in 2001 introduced elements of proportional representation into the legislature.

The monarch is head of state with the succession being ratified by the college of chiefs. Under the terms of the constitution of 1993 the monarch has no executive or legislative powers. The prime minister is head of government and appoints a cabinet.

The bicameral legislature consists of the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly is elected for five years with 80 seats by first-past-the-post and 40 by proportional representation. The Senate is a non-elected body with 33 members, 11 of which are nominated by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister; the remainder are made up of the principal chiefs of Lesotho.

The constitution states that the leader of the majority party in the Assembly automatically becomes the prime minister.

The justice system is based on Roman-Dutch law, and is similar to the South African one. The High Court has jurisdiction to hear the most serious civil and criminal cases, and appeals from the lower courts. Appeals from the High Court come before the Court of Appeal. There are magistrates’ courts in each of the ten districts, and more than 70 central and local courts. Appeals from local courts come before the central courts and appeals from the central or local courts come before the judicial commissioners’ courts, from which further appeals may be made to the High Court.