Electoral commission must get basics right

6

Thakabanna Nyokana – 2012 is here, the year that will see Basotho people going all out to elect the government of their choice.

Yes this is an eventful year and one that could see Basotho moving forward in terms of improving their economic lot.

In the same token, it is the year which can turn Lesotho into a war zone if 1998 is anything to go by — God forbid.

We need leaders, yes leaders of repute, selfless leaders who espouse economic emancipation for all Basotho regardless of their political backgrounds –— a rare breed indeed in Lesotho nowadays.

I need to be proactive and warn the leaders of this country that the 2012 elections shall not be a “bread and butter” affair.

Judging from what I hear on the streets of Maseru, listening to people around the social networks and print media, listening to various radio shows; it is clear to me that the forthcoming elections shall not be easy at all.

That notwithstanding, I am still optimistic that things can still turn out well provided we get the basics right.

It’s not that simple if you check what has been happening in previous elections and in the recent local government election held in October.

Here is the “blueprint” to cleaner elections and the one that shall guarantee a protest-free post-election environment.

Before the election date — ensure all the people willing to register do register without much hassle.

During the election — ensure all logistical necessities are up and running and no voter is unduly disfranchised because of the systems.

After elections — ensure all agreed processes and procedures are followed to the letter.

If these are what the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is geared to, if this is what IEC is capable of doing, then in that event, I am comfortable.

But if they fail to fulfill this basic mandate, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili must think again before he announces the election date.

The electorate’s emotions are at their highest, the expectations are mounting.

My experience with the IEC so far, has not been quite impressive.

I was a victim of their logistical failure during the last local government elections for example, where I had to go to three voting stations before I could locate my name — this is a disaster.

My message to the IEC is this: If you are ready and you think the registration process has gone reasonably well, go ahead and advise the Prime Minister that it’s “all systems go”.

If you are not ready, please advise the Prime Minister to re-negotiate with all stakeholders the date beyond what is stipulated in the Act.

I hope I am not the only one seeing the explosive potential of the upcoming election.

My message to the international community is this: It is within your powers and mandate to be pre-emptive and advise the incumbent Prime Minister to level the political playing field.

Make your job easier by anticipating the worst and act before it is too late.

My advice to the Prime Minister is this: Any advice that you will get from IEC concerning elections, you must check, check and cross-check because your legacy is at stake here.

Lesotho has seen enough political upheavals. We are tired, we are sick, we are hungry — we need food and peace and not war.

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