The move, driven by trade unions, comes after an African Union peer review mechanism report, which said the country had become economically unsustainable. The kingdom has a population growth rate of only 0.1 per cent because of HIV and emigration.
There are 1.8 million people living in the mountain kingdom, which has a struggling textile industry and a small diamond mine. Correspondent Alex Duval Smith says the informal economy is dominant.
“South African president Jacob Zuma is expected on a state visit in August,” said Duval Smith, “but the campaigners fear their calls will be resisted by their own politicians, who fear losing power.”
The leader of the People’s Charter Movement said the king would remain king, following the Zulu example, and that Lesotho would also keep its parliament and flag.
“I doubt if the king is jittering about this move,” said Vuyani Tyhalim “because all Basutian Lesothian South Africans are paying allegiance to him. The people who are jittering are political leaders they want to defend their party base. They see themselves losing power and remaining poor.”