Mothae takes over at IEC
LAW and Constitutional Affairs Principal Secretary, Retired Colonel Tanki Mothae, has been appointed Acting Chief Accounting Officer at the troubled Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
The appointment is aimed at averting a total shutdown of the elections body which is in a crisis after some service providers withdrew their services over outstanding payments.
Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro informed Rtd Col Mothae of government’s decision to appoint him as the Interim Chief Accounting Officer.
“In terms of Section 4 (g) of the Public Financial Management and Accounting Act 2011, I appoint you as Chief Accounting Officer of Law and Constitutional Affairs. I also appoint you as an interim Chief Accounting Officer of the Independent Election Commission for the 2019/20 financial year,” Dr Majoro states in his letter.
Rtd Col Mothae will act in the position until the substantive Director of Elections, Letholetseng Ntsike, is assisted to return to work as per the request of the political parties.
Dr Ntsike was suspended in March by the IEC commissioners, Chairperson Justice Mahapela Lehohla, Advocate ‘Mamosebi Pholo, and Dr Makase Nyaphisi.
Dr Ntsike was suspended from her duties by the commissioners in March 2019 for allegedly defying orders that they gave her.
The commissioners then appointed IEC Information and Technology Manager, Lebohang Bulane, as the Acting Director of Elections. Mr Bulane was however, unable to discharge his duties as his appointment was rejected by the government which insists that the three commissioners’ contracts expired and therefore they cannot make any decisions regarding the IEC.
The appointment of Rtd Col Mothae will restore a semblance of normalcy to the troubled IEC which has struggled to meet its payments obligations to service providers as a result of the three commissioners’ stand-off with the government over their renewal of their contracts which expired in January this year.
The IEC’s internet and email services were cut on 15 May while staffers are not sure they will get their salaries this month.
The IEC commissioners had pinned their hopes on the political parties to recommend the extension of their tenure. But the political parties had other ideas and the political leaders adopted the report on the IEC which was prepared by their technical committee which comprises of the Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP) leader, Pelele Letsoela, Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane, the Minister of Labour, Keketso Rantšo, in her capacity as leader of Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), Democratic Party of Lesotho leader, Limpho Tau, and Mpulule Political Summit leader Remaketse Sehlabaka.
The political parties, including opposition formations, want the Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, to immediately advise the Council of State to urgently convene and kick-start the processes of appointing new commissioners by the end of June 2019. They say the appointment of new commissioners is top priority because “the normal operations at the IEC have collapsed and there is a crisis situation that the government and the leaders of the political parties have to address as a matter of urgency”.
The political parties also want the commissioners investigated for alleged financial improprieties emanating from their resolution that they be paid allowances for the 2017 general and local government elections.
The political parties’ resolutions are contained in a confidential document prepared by a technical committee set up to investigate the power struggle that has gripped the electoral body since the beginning of the year.
The technical committee’s confidential report, which has been seen by the Lesotho Times, is titled ‘Report of the Lesotho Political Parties Leaders’ Forum – Technical Committee on the impasse in respect of the tenure of office of commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission’.
The Sunday Express has established that the report has since been adopted by the leaders’ forum (which comprises of the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties) and that the Council of State is expected to meet this week to begin the processes that should culminate in the appointment of new commissioners as decided by the political leaders.
The commissioners have since approached the High Court for an order to compel the government to reverse its decisions not to renew their contracts and instead ensure that their tenure is extended by another five years.