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LESOTHO ELECTION PHOTO ESSAY

Scenes from Maseru as residents cast their votes

Scenes from Maseru as residents cast their votes
RFP supporters celebrate their party’s constituency wins as they make their way to the Maseru city centre before an address by party leader, Sam Matekane. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

A selection of images after Daily Maverick spent several days in Lesotho covering its elections. The poll went ahead smoothly despite years of political instability.

All was peace and calm on voting day in Lesotho on Friday, 7 October and no incidents were reported. People around Maseru are hopeful and optimistic that change will come to Lesotho. From wealthy businessmen to street vendors, many are in favour of businessman turned politician Sam Matekane, leader of the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), who promised his supporters a better Lesotho.

lesotho maseru election

RFP supporters sing and dance outside the Mpilo Hotel in Maseru while they wait to be addressed by their leader a day after voting. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

lesotho maseru matekane

An RFP supporter shouts from a taxi window while he and others make their way to listen to an address by their leader Sam Matekane. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

lesotho maseru elections

Lesotho’s RFP leader Sam Matekane shakes hands with a party member after the announcement that his party was on track to win a majority in parliament. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

A polling station official, watched by party agents, holds a valid ballot as it is being tallied at the Life High School in Maseru after voting closed. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

maseru voting ballots

A polling station official shows an empty ballot box as the counting process is about to begin at the Life High School in Maseru after voting closed. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

A polling station official walks with a valid ballot as its being counted at a voting station at the Life High School in Maseru after the closure of voting. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

lesotho voting

Observer Raeesah Cassim Cachalia (right), in conversation with an IEC official (middle) and a fellow observer (left), photographed through the window of a polling station at the Life High School in Maseru. The voting in Lesotho went ahead without any incidents. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

A woman receives her ballot paper before voting at a school in Maseru. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Businessman-cum-politician Sam Matekane (partially in frame, to the left), leader of the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), stands in front of a crowd of supporters. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Said a woman rushing out of the polling station as she briefly described some of the issues they faced:

“Life is very difficult in Lesotho. There are no jobs, even for people who are educated… there are no jobs.” She was, however, optimistic and concluded, “I believe there’s going to be a very big change in the country in respect to the whole situation… in Lesotho. So I really believe there’s going to be a change with the vote that I have done. The government I have chosen.”

lesotho voting

A baby goat stares into the camera in Koro Koro, outside Maseru, on voting day, while three people look on. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

voting day lesotho

A young Basotho woman draped in a Sotho scarf poses for a portrait next to her goat in Koro Koro, outside Maseru on voting day. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

As results started trickling in after voting day, Matekane’s party had already claimed several constituencies, prompting his supporters and party members to take to the streets of Maseru, driving around the city in convoy with hooters blaring and music playing over loudspeakers. Several supporters sang and danced while traffic was blocked off. They were addressed by their leader shortly afterwards who said that with the elections over, it was time to deliver on promises: “It’s the beginning of a new journey that we have to take for the next five years, it is our commitment.”

voting count maseru

A Lesotho IEC official watches as the counting of votes begins at Life High School In Maseru. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

While the final results are yet to be announced, residents who supported the RFP claimed it would be the next ruling party in Lesotho.

On Sunday afternoon, Reuters reported the RFP was set to win as with votes from 49 of 80 constituencies in, RFP had “already secured 41 seats, the minimum required to reach a simple majority.”

lesotho voting registration

Party agents go through a list of registered voters on voting day at a school in Maseru while an elderly woman looks on. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

maseru vote count

A polling station official at the Life High School in Maseru shows party agents the proof of the validity of a ballot before counting procedures for the vote begin. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Said a supporter in attendance, “I am so excited because the numbers from the constituency are promising that the government is already on the side of RFP because the majority of young people were not interested in the political things here. Because this previous government didn’t work for young people and the entire country… we believe great things are going to happen through Mr Matekane.”

While the RFP continued to celebrate, despite the official announcement of the final results not yet made, the Basotho Poverty Solutions Party leader Lephoto Thamae said he found the elections unfair: “It was very unfair, to be honest.” He said his party’s logo was not on the ballot papers, forcing his supporters to vote for another party. He indicated that he would approach the courts on the matter. DM

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