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South Africa’s Big Brother Role in Maseru Does More Harm than Good

Lesotho has been plagued by political instability since its return to democracy in 1993. Throughout this period, South Africa, often under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has intervened on numerous occasions to steady the political situation in its small, landlocked neighbour. Unfortunately, its frequent involvement in Lesotho’s politics has not helped the mountain kingdom achieve lasting peace. Instead, it has had the unintended consequence of encouraging Basotho politicians to act in intransigent and inflammatory ways. It will be difficult for South Africa to alter this damaging dynamic because it has an important national interest in preserving stability in Lesotho. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project provides Gauteng, South Africa’s economic hub, with much of its water. For this supply to continue, there needs to be relative stability in Lesotho.