QACHA’S NEK — A primary election in which Local Government Minister Ponts’o Sekatle was supposed to face a fierce challenge from a former district administrator was cancelled on Saturday following allegations of chicanery, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
Sekatle is battling it out with Mosiuoa Nthakong for the ticket to represent the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party in the Qacha’s Nek constituency in the 2012 general election. Sekatle is the incumbent MP in the constituency.
The two were supposed to go head-to-head last Saturday but the primary poll was cancelled after Nthakong complained that the constituency committee had tinkered with the initial sub-branch election results in which he claims to have beaten Sekatle by 27 votes to eight.
That election was on November 6 and Nthakong claims he was declared the winner.
But he alleges that three days after his victory the constituency committee, to which Sekatle belongs as the MP, came to the sub-branch to have a fresh election using different delegates from the ones that had handed him victory.
In that election Sekatle emerged the winner with 22 votes to Nthakong’s two.
Nthakong says apart from being secretive, that election violated the LCD constitution because the constituency committee had no business organising a new election.
He says he is livid because if the results of the new election stand it will give the impression that he is less popular than Sekatle when people vote in the primaries.
“It was that unlawful elective conference that had my result overridden,” Nthakong said in an interview on Saturday. “‘M’e Ponts’o emerged with 22 votes while I came out with a measly two, results which were endorsed by the constituency
Nthakong claims when the constituency committee delegation was quizzed by the sub-branch committee about the motive for the new election “it was not forthcoming”.
“The members of the constituency committee simply brushed off the questions by saying that they were there to conduct an election, not to be questioned.”
“I forwarded my complaints regarding the handling of my results which I had acquired in the Tsekong sub-branch where I had beaten ‘M’e Ponts’o but was later altered.”
“There were other complaints from other sub-branches and the constituency committee told me that it would look into it and get back to me if necessary, ” The constituency committee only told him on Saturday that it had postponed the election, he said.
The constituency committee, Nthakong said, told him it wanted to deal with “queries before elections could resume”.
According to Nthakong, a former Qacha’s Nek district administrator whose contract ended in May, the constituency committee violated the LCD constitution by conducting elections at sub-branch level.
“I’m a devout member of the LCD who respects committees at all levels and I have faith in them to carry out their duties accordingly and adhere to our constitution,” said the former Qacha’s Nek district administrator.
“I believe in transparency and for all committee members to be impartial in their delivery.
The fact that the constituency committee conducted elections at sub-branch level does not sit well with me.”
Nthakong said the fact that Sekatle had more resources and popularity could not sway him from contesting against her because “I have it in me to take her on”.
“I will not compare myself to her because by so doing I’ll be dancing to her tune and she’ll easily beat me at her own game. We’re two different and very unique people,” Nthakong added.
“People should not be intimidated or discriminated against when they exercise their freedom to vote for a candidate of their choice.
“It should be clear that if the Qacha’s Nek candidature belonged to any one individual, it would be couched by the Lesotho inheritance law. But as things stand now, it’s not.”
On Tuesday Sekatle said she was not prepared to comment on the issues Nthakong raised.
“I will not respond to what those men from Qacha’s Nek are saying,” Sekatle said curtly.
The Qacha’s Nek constituency committee secretary general ‘Mampho Rabele, also declined to comment on the basis that she was not authorised to speak to media.
“I am unable to provide reasons why the elections were suspended because I have not been authorised by my committee to reveal such details to the media. I’m sorry,” Rabele said.