Lesotho: Political Parties Material

Scope and Content

Manifestos, journals, constitutions, programmes, letters, petitions, resolutions, interviews, press releases, pamphlets, statements, reports, election results, conference papers and histories, 1958 onwards, issued by the Basotho National Party, the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), the Basutoland Progressive Association Party, the Communist Party of Lesotho, the Lesotho Unity Party and the United Democratic Party (Lesotho). The substantial holdings of BCP material from this period include a number of conference papers originating from the Round Table Conference of Political Leaders which sought to resolve the political crisis which followed the 1970 poll.

Administrative / Biographical History

The majority of the material held here relates to the first two elections held under full adult suffrage in Lesotho. In 1965 the Basotho National Party (BNP) under the leadership of Leabua Jonathan won the first of these amidst accusations of interference on its behalf by the Catholic Church and the South African government. Independence followed in 1966, but when the opposition Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) appeared to have won the elections in 1970 Jonathan annulled them and suspended parliamentary government, remaining in power until deposed by the first of a series of military coups in 1986.


Alphabetically by party, and then in rough chronological order.

Access Information

Open to all for research purposes; access is free for anyone in higher education.

Acquisition Information

Institute of Commonwealth Studies


The Political Archives Project was a 2.5 year project to catalogue political archive material held in the libraries of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the Institute for the Study of the Americas to the University and present it as a cohesive virtual collection. The project was successfully completed in July 2005. Descriptions of all the documents may be found by searching the library catalogue at http://catalogue.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/, or via the Political Archives website: http://polarch.sas.ac.uk

Other Finding Aids

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT)

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Daniel Millum, Political Archives Project Officer at the Institutes of Commonwealth and Latin American Studies.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Custodial History

The ICS political parties collection was begun in 1960-1961, with special emphasis being placed on primary material such as party constitutions, policy statements, convention reports and election manifestos. Since then, the main method of gathering material has been to appeal directly to political parties throughout the Commonwealth, though contributions from Institute members and staff following visits to relevant countries have been significant. More recently material has been collected by means of downloading documents from the websites of the major parties.


Further accruals are expected, some in electronic form.

Related Material

See also Political Party, Trades Unions and Pressure Group Materials for other Commonwealth countries and related material in the library's main classified sequence, all held at the ICS.

Geographical Names