By Limpho Sello
MASERU — The Sadc Parliamentary Forum report, which was tabled on Monday, hails last year’s poll as credible but also highlights areas which the IEC needs to improve on.
The report was tabled before Independent Electoral Commission (IEC.
The report calls for provisions in the national assembly election law for the facilitation of voting by special groups such as “the sick, the disabled, the pregnant and citizens abroad”.
It also proposes the use of personal identity cards for citizens to curb presently growing cases of under-age voting as well as multiple registrants.
The report also urges the IEC to establish an efficient process and legal framework to facilitate for the timely removal of deceased persons from the voter register “to maintain a clean and credible voters’ roll”.
Programme Manager of the Sadc Parliamentary forum, Sheuneni Kurasha while reading the report, added that the IEC needed to expand its Code of Conduct so as to bring “into line the stakeholders’ collaboration” in the management of the elections.
“There is need to expand the Code of Conduct to include responsibilities for other critical stakeholders such as the police and the media so as to harmonise stakeholder collaboration in the management of elections,” Kurasha said.
He said during the elections the police and military were present at polling stations.
Kurasha also said the mission “noted the preliminary worries expressed by some stakeholders on the role of the security forces during the 2012 national assembly elections”.
The mission further stated it observed the existence of an urban-rural divide in the country’s media because all radio stations and most of print media houses “are in Maseru when the majority of voters are in the rural areas”.
“This made it difficult for those people in the rural areas to fully participate in live programmes specifically designed for the elections in electronic media and to contribute to election related debate in both the print and electronic media,” read part of the report.
The Sadc report also noted that IEC provided all participating political parties equitable coverage by the state media through securing time slots for airing campaign messages on the state broadcaster.
“The diversity of the media landscape included the public and private newspapers, community radio stations and the public broadcaster that gave extensive coverage to political parties, candidates and the general electoral process.”
The report added that the number of media outlets, both electronic and print, publishing in the Sesotho vernacular language were considered a positive feature which helped to ensure that “all Basotho had access to election related information irrespective of their literacy level”.
At a similar event IEC Chairperson Fako Likoti said they were proud of the report adding “Basotho should be as well”.
“This is a good report indeed and we are happy about the management committee,” Likoti said.
He added they will again work with the media as “the guard for democracy”.