By Nat Molomo
MASERU — A Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) candidate in the May 26 election has filed an application at the High Court asking it to nullify the election result in Tele constituency.
Dorren Chaoana-Mapetja, who lost to the Democratic Congress’s Ndiwuhleli Ndlomose, wants the court to set aside the result and issue an order directing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to hold a fresh election in Tele constituency.
Chaoana-Mapetja also wants the High Court to declare the election of the first respondent Ndlomose invalid.
She says in court papers that Ndlomose’s election should be set aside on the grounds that there were illegal practices at a polling station where the village chieftainess and other people marked ballot papers for people who did not need assistance.
She claims the polling station manager at Maleka Tsekoa Primary School allowed the village chieftainess, ’Maatisang Tsekoa, to assist eight people to vote, a practice she says is illegal.
“Similarly, one Zoligikeli Joni (Qaqazela) helped nine people to vote, likewise a certain Nowandile Mbizo helped five people to vote,” she states.
Chaoana-Mapetja has attached the names of 25 people, whom she says she was told by her party agent that they were helped by Tsekoa, Joni and Mbizo claiming that they had physical disabilities.
Chaoana-Mapetja says her party agent, Nomzimkhulu Tšeloa, told her that only two people Taelo Tsekoa and Nozinothi Zeqhu had physical disabilities of poor sight and the latter had clustered his right hand.
“As regards the remainder of those assisted, your petitioner is informed and verily believes that they had no physical disabilities or visual problems,” the applicant declares.
Chaoana-Mapetja claims that her party agent told her that even as these people were helped to vote none of them was asked by the people purporting to help them which party they wanted to vote for.
“They said three people simply marked the ballot paper without the voter uttering a word or pointing their choice,” Chaoana-Mapetja states.
She says the LCD party agent and others complained to the station manager about Chieftainess Tsekoa, Joni, and Nowandile for voting for so many able-bodied people with whom they were not related.
The station manager, Leopa Ntsibolane, did not offer any explanation why he allowed the trio to vote for those people, she says.
Chaoana-Mapetja says the LCD party agent informed her that when she complained to the police assistant ’Matšepo Lebitsa, she accused her of “complaining when corruption is perpetrated against them whereas the party agent and Ndlomose committed the same corruption in the previous elections”.
“The fact that three named persons voted for people who had no disabilities, except those whose disabilities are specified, was a clear violation of section 86, in particular the principle of a secret ballot contained and provided for under section 85 of the Electoral Act, and indeed a key feature of all democratic elections,” she says.
She states further that the station manager did not issue the LCD agent with a complaint form, IEC 11L, when she requested it to lodge her protest.
The party agent reported the irregularities to the district returning officer ’Mapaulosi Ramakatsa, who supplied her with the form.
The complaints were duly filed on May 28 and were forwarded to the IEC.
Chaoana-Mapetja supports her application with an affidavit of ’Maakofang Mohale, her second party agent.
Chaoana-Mapetja also complains that the local community councillor Lebohang ’Molaoa had in his possession voters’ cards of several people and he would deliver a card to its owner when spotting him on the queue.
“The inference is irresistible that he had the said cards in his possession to ensure that the voters whose cards he had in his possession turned up to vote and that they voted in a particular way,” she said.
“This, your petitioner avers, is an interference with a document used in the election contrary to the law,” Chaoana-Mapetja contends.
Ndlomose won the Tele constituency with 2 270 votes while Chaoana-Mapetja got 2 256 votes.