DC to sue IEC
OPPOSITION Democratic Congress (DC) Mathibeli Mokhothu says his party will sue the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for delineating new electoral constituencies in the absence of commissioners.
This follows the IEC’s issuance of a call a fortnight ago to the electorate and other stakeholders to submit their input on the reviews to constituencies and districts.
But Mr Mokhothu argues the delineation exercise cannot be conducted by the IEC secretariat in the absence of commissioners. The IEC has been without commissioners ever since the expiry of the contracts of former commissioners Mahapela Lehohla (former chairperson), Advocate ‘Mamosebi Pholo and Dr Makase Nyaphisi.
The trio’s contracts expired on 7 January 2019 but the government refused to renew them.
Subsequent efforts by the governing and opposition parties to appoint new commissioners were put on hold by a July 2019 Constitutional Court application by the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) and two others for the nullification of the appointment of Workplace Solutions as the human resources consultant in the recruitment of new IEC commissioners.
The TRC’s co-applicants are one Maieane Khaketla and the African Ark (one of the political parties involved in the processes to recruit and appoint new commissioners).
The TRC wants the court to order the recruitment exercise of the new commissioners to be re-done with the active participation of civic groups through a public interviewing process. TRC also wants a final order for the nullification of the appointment of Workplace Solutions in the whole exercise. The civic group contends that Workplace Solutions was awarded the tender without following proper bidding processes in contravention of the Public Procurement Regulations of 2007. It has even been alleged that the firm did not have a tax clearance certificate to qualify for bidding.
In an interview with the Sunday Express’ sister Lesotho Times publication three weeks ago, IEC spokesperson Tuoe Hantši revealed their frustration with the failure to appoint commissioners. Mr Hantši said the absence of the commissioners was hampering the work of the IEC including the delineation exercise and holding by-elections in the ‘Makhoroana constituency whose legislator, Lefu Hlomelang, died last November.
“We are greatly concerned by the absence of the commissioners. There are so many things that should take place and they are not happening. We cannot hire new staff, delineate the constituencies, of hold by-elections to fill up vacancies such as this one (‘Makhoroana). There are other vacancies in the district councils that must be filled but we are stuck,” Mr Hantši said.
Judging by its recent call for submissions and input, it appears that the IEC secretariat intends to proceed with the delineation of constituencies even in the absence of commissioners.
But the DC is opposed to the move and Mr Mokhothu insists that this should only be done when there are IEC commissioners.
He said they would challenge any moves to delineate the constituencies in the courts as they believed that the “some areas will gain unfair advantage over others in the demarcation exercise”.
“People might think that we disgruntled because the exercise targets rural constituencies where it is believed that we have the strongest hold. But I can tell you that we will win in urban constituencies because people have had enough of this government,” said Mr Mokhothu.