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Mofomobe blasts IEC

’Marafaele Mohloboli

BASOTHO National Party (BNP) leader Machesetsa Mofomobe has accused the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of dragging its feet in respect of preparations for the elections which are due any time after September 2022.

In an interview, Mr Mofomobe, who is also Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing minister, said “by now new constituency boundaries should have been delineated, the voters’ roll should have cleaned up and new voters added to the roll”.

“As it is, I don’t see that happening. More so because the IEC chairperson, Mphasa Mokhochane, is likely to be compromised due to his affiliation to the Democratic Congress (DC). I don’t see us having credible elections at all,” Mr Mofomobe said.

Despite his party being a junior partner in the governing alliance which is anchored by the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and DC, Mr Mofomobe did not have any kind words for both parties.

He alleged that Finance Minister and ABC legislator, Thabo Sophonea, acted in line with his party’s demands to withhold money for the holding of by-elections in five constituencies.

The by-elections are overdue in the five constituencies of Makhoroana, Maliepetsane, Thupa Kubu, Mohale’s Hoek and Kolo. The constituencies are currently without representation following the deaths of four legislators between 2019 and 2021.

The deceased legislators are Lefu Hlomelang (Makhoroana), Mpalipali Molefe (Maliepetsane), Sentje Lebona (Mohale’s Hoek) and Putsoane Leeto (Kolo). Another vacant constituency is Qacha’s Nek whose legislator, Pontšo Sekatle was appointed Lesotho’s ambassador to Belgium in February 2021. They were all from the ABC except the DC’s Leeto.

Last year, Mr Sophonea said the by-elections could be held because the IEC had not requested funds for them when it presented its budget needs for the 2021/22 financial year.

However, Mr Mofomobe said this was all a smokescreen because the ABC did not want the elections to be held. He did not say why the ABC was opposed to the elections. However, it is widely believed that the ABC’s opposition stems from the fear of losing following the April 2021 split which gave birth to former deputy leader, Nqosa Mahao’s Basotho Action Party (BAP). Prof Mahao took with him 10 MPs to form the BAP after falling out with outgoing leader Thomas Thabane, prime minister Moeketsi Majoro and secretary general Lebohang Hlaele.

“The same Minister of Finance never cited lack of money when legislators demanded M5000 fuel allowances each because this personally benefitted and enriched them. But they decided not to adhere to the constitution in as far as the holding of by-elections and other IEC activities was concerned.

“This shows the kind of leaders that we have. We have those who are opposed to the delimitation of the constituency boundaries (DC) and those who don’t want the by-elections like the All Basotho Convention. This is all wrong and against the law. Both the by-elections and the constituency boundaries are provided for in the constitution. Should things continue like this, we are unlikely to hold credible elections at all,” Mr Mofomobe said.

Contacted for comment, IEC Chairperson Mokhochane said, “we and the politicians have resolved that the voters’ database be dismantled and an updated one be made.

“A tender to this effect has already been awarded. This means that new voters will be registered when the new database is ready.

“As for the constituency delimitations, we have already made a public announcement that the public should go check the proposed boundaries and submit their objections not later than 28 January 2022.”

On the issue of his alleged DC affiliations, Mr Mokhochane said, “everyone, including Mofomobe, is entitled to their opinion.

“But it should be noted that the IEC works as collective to conduct the elections. Therefore, an individual cannot affect the credibility of the elections,” Mr Mokhochane said.

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