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IEC denies spending spree


Billy Ntaote

Acting Director of Elections, ‘Mamatlere Pontšo Matete, has denied claims that Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials have been on a spending spree since the 28 February 2015 snap elections.

According to sources privy to the alleged binge, the IEC has since awarded its staff 150 percent bonuses while also taking turns to go on “useless” study tours “just to make money through per diems and finish off what had been set aside for the elections by government”.   

However, in an interview with the Sunday Express, Ms Matete on Friday said paying bonuses to IEC workers after such an election was standard practice, while also defending the study tours which have seen staff traveling to Malawi, Tanzania and Namibia. She denied allegations the tours and bonuses were meant to ensure the M220. 5million government allocated for the elections was exhausted.

Ms Matete said: “What we did was standard practice; it’s what the commission has been doing in the past and I have no recollection of any recommendation that such undertakings must be approved by the Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs. The decision to give out the bonuses is in-house, and is approved by the commission. We don’t necessarily have to go to the minister for everything.”

The study tours, Ms Matete added, had been funded by the IEC’s recurrent budget and not from poll funds, and were also authorised by government.

Ms Matete explained that for instance, the Malawi tour enabled Lesotho officials to study how their counterparts carried out civic education under a European Union (EU)-funded programme.

“We are going to be running a similar programme here in Lesotho so we needed to find out how the Malawians were doing it.

“I want to believe you know we have not been doing civic education between election periods the way we should. We have mostly been focusing on voter-education in the past, so in the light of the forthcoming programme which is also going to be funded by the EU, we needed to find out how they were doing it in Malawi hence that particular tour.”

On the Tanzania visit, Ms Matete said IEC officials wanted first-hand experience on how the country would be carrying out its referendum.

She added: “Regarding the trip to Namibia, we needed to witness how the country, being the first African nation to run its elections electronically, was going about the whole process. We need to have that experience so that we grow as an organisation. If need arises, we might end up changing to electronic voting in future, hence the importance of the Namibia tour.

“Having said all this, I don’t see how we are now being accused of abusing funds or going on a spending spree as you have put it.”

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