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Political parties call for audit of elections

by Sunday Express

…as IEC admits errors in calculating PR seats

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) have called for an audit of the entire electoral process. This after the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) admitted that it had blundered in the allocation of proportional representation (PR) seats. The electoral body yesterday filed a High Court application for an order allowing it to take back three PR seats that it had allocated to the Democratic Congress (DC) and one PR seat which had been given to the Alliance of Democrats (AD). In its court papers filed in the High Court yesterday, the IEC says it wants to reallocate three of the seats to the BNP, United for Change and Basotho Patriotic Party. It does not say which party will be allocated the fourth seat.

Despite being a beneficiary of the reallocation of seats, BNP leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, is far from happy with the IEC.

In an interview with the Sunday Express yesterday, he called for an audit of the entire electoral process, saying there was a possibility that the IEC could have got the final election results wrong.

“I’m not surprised that we are gaining another seat,” Mr Mofomobe said.

“There is no way that our total of 7000 votes in the election would have merited just one PR seat that we had been initially been given. That said, this whole saga shows just how incompetent the IEC has been. They failed to display the voters’ roll on time. Things just didn’t add up in the run-up to the polls and now boom: they admit that they got the allocation of the PR seats wrong.  Who knows what else they got wrong? How can we be sure that they got the overall election results right?

“This mistake can be very costly and it is enough to burn the whole country if not handled well. A full audit of the elections should be conducted immediately,” Mr Mofomobe said.

He also demanded the resignations of what he said were “incompetent” IEC commissioners, Mphasa Mokhochane (chairperson), Karabo Mokobocho-Mohlakoana and Tšoeu Petlane.

“This is by far the worst IEC that I’ve ever seen. The commissioners and the director of elections (Mpaiphele Maqutu) are incompetent and they should resign immediately. If they have erred with the PR seats allocation then what guarantees do we have that they got the election results right?

“I have spoken to other leaders to demand an audit of the election results and I am waiting for their response,” he said.

Among others, Mr Mofomobe said he had engaged leaders of the former governing ABC and DC parties. He said he had also engaged Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader, Nqosa Mahao.

ABC leader, Nkaku Kabi, whose party failed to win a single seat, said he could not comment on the matter as he was attending a funeral yesterday.

However, his party’s spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, said they supported Mr Mofomobe’s call for an audit of the polls.

“A forensic audit would really put matter to rest. There is a case of candidate failing to get a single vote yet he and his relatives voted. This says there is something sinister about the whole thing.

“We haven’t been in the forefront of calling for an audit lest it be misconstrued that we only want it because we performed dismally in the polls. However, we fully support those who are calling for a forensic audit of the elections,” Mr Masoetsa said.

On his part, DC leader and outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu said, “This is a very sensitive issue that needs cautious handling lest we be viewed as refusing to accept the outcome of the polls.

“Elections are a very delicate issue that need to be handled carefully to preserve peace and stability. For any government to be credible, it should be the product of credible elections. So, this is a very crucial and scary matter which we have to give a lot of thought before taking any action.

“We are of the view that there were a lot of irregularities and we should try and find out if they really translate into rigging and what effects they could have on the establishment of a new government.

“We should try at all costs to be reasonable and not base our arguments on emotions but on deep thought as we seek to create the kind of Lesotho that we want. We really need to be very careful with what we say and do. We need to think about how best the mistakes can be rectified without causing any violence. Those who are calling for an audit should approach the courts or else their call will just end up as cheap talk,” he said.

Prof Mahao was not reachable for comment.

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The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it wont fail me as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, however I really thought you would have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you could fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

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