MASERU — The Basotho National Party (BNP) has rubbished claims that the credibility of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is compromised because of interim commissioner Mamosebi Pholo’s “perceived political affiliation to the party”.
Last Monday the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) alleged that Pholo was an active member of the BNP who contested for the deputy leadership post at the party’s last elective conference.
While addressing a press briefing on the day, LPC deputy-leader Molahlehi Letlotlo challenged Pholo’s appointment saying it compromised the IEC’s independence and credibility “in the eyes of other political stakeholders”.
However, the BNP has defended Pholo’s appointment, saying she is not their member and that she was selected purely on merit and based on her befitting academic credentials.
Speaking to the Sunday Express on Thursday, the BNP treasurer-general Sekhohola Molelle dismissed the LPC claims as unfounded, arguing that Pholo was appointed due to her credentials adding “she is not even a member of the BNP”.
According to Molelle, following the allegations the BNP conducted its own thorough investigations and wide consultations which established that Pholo did not even “appear in the structures of the party”.
“She was not even in the party’s membership roll and there is no way she can be linked to the BNP as the LPC claims,” Molelle said.
Also in a letter penned by the LPC Secretary General Moipone Piet to the Secretary of the Council of State, the party protested Pholo’s appointment on the basis that it was “compromising the credibility and the neutrality of the IEC” because of her perceived link to the BNP.
Letlotlo allegedly said Pholo contested the elections for deputy leadership of the BNP and her being a member of the BNP compromises the independence of the commission.
But Molelle challenged the assertion saying the law did not deny people their right to freedom of association but only prohibited individuals who are active within political parties’ structures from “being appointed IEC commissioners”.
“In terms of freedom of association, she might be someone who sympathises with the BNP. But in my investigations I did not find her in any of our records,” Molelle said.
The BNP treasurer also dared the LPC leadership to “provide documentation to the effect that Pholo is a member of the BNP.
Molelle again questioned the logic behind Pholo’s appointment being question because “she is just part of the interim IEC”.
“A permanent IEC is yet to be appointed,” Molelle said.
According to Molelle, it was only the name of Lefa Mokotjo, a candidate nominated by the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) for appointment into the IEC that was rejected because of his active participation in the party’s structures.
“As a representative of the BNP leadership at the party leaders’ forum meetings held at the IEC, I know very well that on July 7, Lefa Mokotjo of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy was disqualified as he appeared to be chairman of the LCD Khubetsoana constituency,” Molelle said.
Citing the law he added: “When it was established that Mokotjo was an active member of the LCD, the forum applied Section 66 (b) of the National Assembly Elections Act 2011 and advised that his appointment would be in breach of the law while Pholo appointment was never challenged.”
Molelle’s sentiments were corroborated by the BNP Lithabaneng constituency chairman Setofolo Hloloane who said in his record “I do not have Pholo as a BNP member”.
“She is not even a member of the constituency committees, something that should have been one of the requirements for her to contest the deputy-leadership of the BNP,” Hloloane said.
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