Understanding Conflict, Peace and Gender Context in Lesotho
25 June 2021
The overarching aim of the assessment on Conflict, Peace and Gender Context was to gain a better understanding of the triggers of conflict and its impact on social cohesion and gender. In addition, the assessment was meant to look into the existing infrastructure for peace in terms of conflict resolution mechanisms and other mitigating measures as well as identify enabling and inhibiting factors to peacebuilding and inclusivity. Pursuant to the objective of the assessment, a qualitative analysis method was adopted for the desk research and in-depth interviews that were conducted with purposively selected respondents in state and non-state sectors.
The assessment findings show that a political party system which is built on strong personalities rather institutions grounded in ideological principles and a weak economy are at the centre of conflict and political instability. The findings have revealed that politicisation of state institutions has crippled their ability to perform. Decisive resolution of governance challenges has been sluggish due to lack of incentives for reform. The intractable conflicts and instability have hampered the delivery of services and led to disillusionment among citizens. Under the circumstances of poverty exacerbated by COVID-19, some people have resorted to violence and crime, and social cohesion is under strain. There are implementation gaps between commitments to international protocols and their execution. Consequently, Lesotho has not been able to deal with gender and inclusivity questions adequately.
The assessment has established that there are several innovative peacebuilding interventions by local actors, including the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) peacebuilding initiative in conflict-ravaged Ribaneng area in the Mafeteng District from which lessons can be learnt for wider application. External actors such as the Southern African Community (SADC) and the UN have also been credited for their
interventions geared towards diffusing political tensions at the national level. However, the political elite has not necessarily responded to some interventions with zeal where they seem to benefit from the status quo. Local peace-building initiatives and regional mediation efforts are not bolstered by a comprehensive national policy response for effective management of conflicts and innovative peacebuilding measures such as context-specific national peace architecture. Marginalised groups such as women, youth, and people with disability are also not been fully included in conflict management and peacebuilding processes as they currently exist.