THE Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has expressed serious reservations over the behaviour of some political parties, accusing them of failing to cooperate with the commission to ensure a smooth election on 3 June.
The country is set to hold elections on 3 June, its third in just five years as none of the governments have lasted for the five year tenure.
The latest election will be held against the background of the opposition bloc’s successful no confidence vote which toppled the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition government in March.
His Majesty King Letsie III subsequently dissolved the Ninth Parliament and proclaimed 3 June as the date for snap polls- dealing a blow to the opposition’s hopes of installing Alliance for Democrats (AD) leader Monyane Moleleki as the next Prime Minister for an 18 month period after which he would be succeeded by All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane.
And in the aftermath of His Majesty’s proclamation there has been heightened political activity as the parties hit the campaign trail.
However, IEC Commissioner Makase Nyaphisi yesterday expressed dissatisfaction with the behaviour of some of the political players.
He told a press conference in Maseru that “of late some politicians seem to be putting the IEC’s credibility to the test by not adhering to the very electoral pledge which they have signed”.
“We see these people doing everything else possible in their powers to test the credibility and potential of IEC with utmost impunity, and this is mainly because there was no consensus of all parties for the calling of the elections.”
Already, the IEC has received complaints of vote-buying and a fortnight ago, Communications Minister and DC candidate for Malingoaneng constituency, Serialong Qoo was slapped with a formal warning by the IEC after being found guilty of vote buying.
Mr Qoo had donated 33 computers to Mapholaneng Primary and High Schools in the same constituency located in Mokhotlong district on 13 March 2017.
The donation, according to the IEC Tribunal’s ruling, was in direct contravention of section 64 of the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011, which prohibits candidates from buying votes during the election period.
DC candidate for Mohale’s Hoek, Tšepang Lengoasa has filed a complaint with the IEC, accusing ABC leader, Dr Thabane of vote buying.
This followed Dr Thabane and his wife, ‘MaIsiah’s donation of goods to 35 elderly and disabled people in Mohale’s Hoek last week.
Commissioner Nyaphisi said the parties had also failed to account for campaign funds they received ahead of the 2012 and 2015 polls.
He said the IEC had considered deductions on funds that the parties were supposed to receive for the current campaign and this had met with the disapproval of the parties who could use that as an excuse not to accept the outcome of the election.
He also said the polls would be highly contested and urged the media to be professional in their reporting to avoid creating problems.
Another Commissioner, Advocate ’Mamosebi Pholo said IEC was well prepared for the elections, adding the ballot papers would be collected on 13 May from the South African port city of Durban where it was being processed by the printers.
“There will be a team comprising of security, media and politicians as well as the IEC who will accompany the ballot papers to their destination,” Commissioner Pholo said.
She also said the air wing of the Lesotho Defence Force would ferry all electoral material to inaccessible voting stations on 30 May, adding they would not be involved in any other activity except providing transport.
Commissioner Pholo further appealed to the parties to adhere to the code of conduct they signed on 18 April. The pledge included among other things, commitments to promote a peaceful election and to accept the results, provided the election process was deemed credible.
IEC also revealed that 1 257 498 voters registered to vote and of these, 699 173 were women and 558 322 were men.
The final roll of voters would be released on 19 May and there could be less voters as some of the names would have been ‘cleaned up’ and removed for various reasons.
IEC also revealed that of the 1368 candidates, 958 were men and 410 were female. Of these, there were 45 independent candidates (30 men and 15 women).
At least 600 local observers are expected to observe the polls, with other observers expected to come from observer missions of different groupings such as the Commonwealth of Nations, African Union and Southern Africa Development Community.
“We have made our mission to see to it that the polls are a success and we are ready to deliver and hold peaceful elections without any bias and as independent as always.
“We shall have transparent and credible elections filled peace and tranquility,” Advocate Pholo said
Commissioner Nyaphisi also appealed to the victorious parties to be magnanimous in their treatment of the losers.