Lawmakers in Lesotho are to discuss on Wednesday whether the country should seek to reclaim large swaths of land from powerful neighbour South Africa.
A motion put forward by an opposition MP is aiming to have the parliament declare South Africa’s entire Free State province, which borders Lesotho, as well as areas of four more regions as part of the small mountain kingdom.
“I hope that, after the debate, our country will be returned to us as should have long been,” the lawmaker, Tsepo Lipholo of the Basotho Convenient Movement (BCM) told journalists before the debate.
The disputed regions were historically inhabited by the Basothos, a people from southern Africa’s Bantu ethnic group, who represent a large majority in Lesotho.
The motion is based on a 1962 United Nations resolution that recognised the right to self-determination and independence for the people of Basutoland – as Lesotho was then called.
Lipholo is the sole BCM lawmaker in Lesotho’s 120-seat National Assembly. If his motion passes in the assembly, it would kick off a process that could see the territorial claim turned into law.
The return of Basothos’ lands was the party’s top campaign issue before national elections last year and is a popular topic among the opposition.
The government looks unlikely to pick a fight with its neighbour but has yet to comment on the issue.
The economy of Lesotho – home to two million people – largely depends on that of South Africa – with a population of 60 million – which entirely surrounds it.