No funds for elections: IEC
WITH just two months to go before the snap 3 June 2017 elections, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is yet to receive funds from government towards poll preparations.
Last week, the IEC appealed to government to urgently avail M150 million to commence preparations for the elections, saying the amount represented 60 percent of the total M248 million the IEC says is required for the elections.
The election, the third in just five years, follows the dissolution of parliament on 6 March 2017 by King Letsie III on the advice of Prime Minster Pakalitha Mosisili after the latter and the seven-party coalition government lost a no-confidence vote in parliament on 1 March.
The opposition bloc consisting of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) sponsored the no-confidence motion in the hope of replacing Dr Mosisili with AD leader Monyane Moleleki as prime minister in lieu of elections.
However, their hopes were dashed when King Letsie III heeded Dr Mosisili’s advice to dissolve parliament and call for elections.
And in light of the looming elections, IEC Deputy Director of Elections, Mphasa Mokhochane said Law and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Mootsi Lehata was last Monday given a briefing on the needs of the IEC for the smooth running of the polls and these included a request for M150 million with immediate effect.
And in the aftermath of the IEC request, Finance Minister Tlohang Sekhamane yesterday said they had already transferred M44 million into IEC’s account, adding they intended to transfer another M137 million sometime next week.
“Last week I gave a directive that M44 million be transferred into IEC’s account and I was told that it had already been transferred,” Mr Sekhamane told this publication.
“Little as it may be, this was just to ensure operations don’t stall due to lack of funds. Next week, there will be another transfer of M137 million into IEC’s account while the remaining balance will be made in the next financial year in April.”
However, IEC Director of elections Dr Letholetseng Ntsiki yesterday told the Sunday Express that nothing had been received so far.
“I left the office very late on Friday and I had still not received any communication from our accountants about any money deposited into our account,” Dr Ntsiki said.
She however, confirmed that IEC had already deployed its staff nationwide with the hope that the money would have been availed as promised but the main challenge they were having in most offices was that the machinery for registration (Mobile Registration Unit) were broken down and had to be returned to the head office without new registrations being made.
The registration for elections ends today and Dr Ntsiki said there were no immediate plans to extend the registration period despite “these hiccups”.
Meanwhile, the opposition bloc has since asserted that the government could not legally spend public funds for elections without authorisation from parliament which was dissolved.
Mr Sekhamane had failed to table budgetary estimates of the 2017/2018 financial year after the opposition demanded a no-confidence vote on the government.
The opposition has threatened prosecution against the accountant-general and other senior officials if they avail funds for elections, warning that they should “always observe the provisions of the Constitution and the Public Financial Management and Accountability Act, 2011 and to know that they will individually be liable to prosecution if they participate in illegal acts of spending public monies without proper authorisation”.
Commenting on the development, AD spokesperson Teboho Lehloenya said the limited time set for registration would prejudice many potential voters.
“We are not happy at all with this revelation because in some registration places there were no machines and some were not even opened as promised. This is also because some of the people who were called in who had applied for the local government elections were no-longer available as they had gotten jobs elsewhere, whilst in some places the machines were broken.”
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