When does "people power" become anarchy, forcing a "big power" to
It's a tough question for the new South Africa, whose president,
Nelson Mandela, is determined to spread democracy throughout the
troubled African continent.
Mr. Mandela lives with the legacy of the former apartheid
government that tried to impose its will on the rest of southern
Africa through military intervention. Mandela would rather "jaw-jaw"
than "war-war," putting him in conflict with the presidents of
Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Angola. In August, they thumbed their noses
at Africa's most important leader by intervening militarily in the
messy Congo conflict and thus defeating Mandela"s diplomatic efforts.
Closer to home, Mandela learned this week that sometimes only
might will set things right. Just before dawn Sept. 22, some 600
South African soldiers crossed into the tiny kingdom of Lesotho.
For much of its history, Lesotho's politics was influenced by
South Africa's apartheid government, which installed and deposed
leaders at will.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who is acting president while Mandela is
traveling abroad, told Parliament yesterday that military
intervention was justified because the Lesotho capital of Maseru is
"a city under siege." He read from "desperate" letters from
embattled Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who on Sept. 16
and 19 begged South Africa and other nations of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to send in a peacekeeping force to
reestablish order. Two hundred troops from Botswana were expected to
join the South Africans.
For seven weeks, Lesotho opposition parties and civilians have
maintained a vigil in front of King Letsie's palace to push their
view that the May 23 elections won by Mr. Mosisili's Lesotho Congress
for Democracy were rigged. The vigil turned into a siege in the past
10 days, with youths hijacking government vehicles, chasing
government officials from offices, and snipers shooting at Cabinet
The opposition parties claim widespread electoral fraud allowed
the government to win 79 out of 80 seats with just 61 per cent of the
Mandela has taken up the issue with his colleagues in the SADC, a
regional organization he believes can build peace and prosperity in
Africa. A South African supreme court justice investigated the
Lesotho elections. He delivered his report to Mandela earlier this