The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was under the spotlight yesterday following the discovery of faulty ballot papers in Butha-Buthe.
The papers did not have Democratic Congress (DC) and All Democratic Cooperation (ADC) candidates, Mathabo Shao and Tahleho Setimela, respectively.
Mr Setimela yesterday told the Sunday Express that the anomaly was discovered at LEC Primary School and Butha-Buthe Prison polling stations when voting had already started.
“This blunder disadvantaged both me and Mr Shao, because by the time it was discovered, voting had already started.
“We need this issue adequately addressed and not this simple explanation by the IEC that a new batch of ballot papers was later dispatched to these stations.
“In fact, the fault was first discovered at St Cypril Primary School, but it was resolved before voting started.
“However, at LEC Primary School and Butha-Buthe Prison, the mistake was discovered after 66 votes had been cast,” said Mr Setimela.
“At Butha-Buthe Prison, the discovery was made when the voting process had also started.
“What is even more disturbing is that IEC officials at the polling stations in question continued with their work even when we were holding a meeting discussing the issue.
“Such blunders can cost a candidate the election and the IEC should have treated the matter with the seriousness it deserved.”
For his part, the DC Secretary General, Mr Ralechate ‘Mokose, said he had immediately called IEC Acting Director of Elections, ‘Mamatlere Matete, when he heard about the mistake.
“She informed me that the issue had been resolved but the question is, how did this happen in the first place? The IEC should address this issue so that the affected candidates are not disadvantaged.”
Meanwhile, IEC chairperson, Mahapela Lehohla said the Butha-Buthe debacle had been resolved.
“It’s true the ballot paper at two voting stations was found to be faulty; it did not include All Democratic Cooperation and Democratic Congress candidates. This was later corrected by taking ballot papers from other stations and all the participating parties were present, so the issue was resolved.
“There was also an incident in Teyateyaneng constituency where voting did not start at 7am as expected due to the late delivery of ballot papers.
“However, the situation was soon resolved and voting went ahead a few minutes later.”
Apart from these two incidents, Mr Lehohla said voting was peaceful, and smooth throughout the country.
Twenty-three political parties and 1116 candidates took part in yesterday’s election, which came two years ahead of schedule due to the collapse of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
A total of 1 209 170 people were expected to cast their votes at 2792 polling stations in the 80 constituencies being contested.
Meanwhile, Mr Lehohla said the IEC would officially release the election results from 10am today.