Sefate Democratic Congress attacks plan to deregister it

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MASERU – The Sefate Democratic Congress (SDC) has lashed out at the  Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) over its attempts to strike it off the roll of registered political parties.

The IEC wrote to the SDC on December 8 telling the party that it intended to strike it off the list of registered parties eligible to contest this year’s parliamentary election.

The electoral body alleged that the SDC did not meet the requirements that would allow it to participate in the polls.

Under the IEC’s new rules political parties must have physical addresses, bank accounts and must hold annual  conferences where new leadership is elected.

They must also have at least 500  registered members in their books. The IEC claimed the SDC did not meet this requirement.

It was not clear which other registered political parties were affected under the new rules.

There are more than 24 registered parties in Lesotho with a dozen of them said to be dormant.

But in a scathing response two weeks ago, the SDC argued it satisfied all the requirements.

In a letter to IEC director of elections, SDC leader Bofihla Nkuebe said his party had submitted all required documents to the electoral body in 2008.

Nkuebe also rejected charges that IEC officials had visited the party’s registered physical offices and found no trace of the party there.

“It is not true that the Independent Electoral Commission visited the SDC offices. What is true is that we saw four crooks on board a 4 x 4 Toyota Hilux who said they wanted evidence that SDC had 500 followers,” reads part of Nkuebe’s letter.

“There was no official instruction from the IEC chairperson or from you, the Director of Elections, or the IEC legal officer which would come as official letters.

We have to respect each other for here is not a game where boys and children play.

“We will not hand over the party books that have people’s names to every Jim and Jack passing by the way.”

“You, Mr Mphasa Mokhochane, the IEC Director of Elections, have evidence on your desk that the SDC has physical address and offices,” Nkuebe said.

Nkuebe said the party uses the application forms and analysis book for paid up members and transfer the data to computers.

But this data got lost on one of the computers.

He however promised to give the IEC evidence that the party has enough followers to make it  eligible to take part in the elections.

The SDC broke away from the once mighty Basutoland Congress Party in 1993.

The party says it will hold its general  conference on January 28 where a new leadership will be elected.

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