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Rain dampens municipal polls turnout

 

Mohalenyane Phakela

WET weather conditions experienced in Maseru yesterday affected the voter turn-out in the Maseru Municipal Council 06 (MMC) by-elections, after they were last week postponed due to a faulty ballot paper.

The local government elections were held throughout the country last weekend but there were printing errors on the ballot papers in MMC 06, Tosing 09 and Tosing 12 community councils.

Officers presiding at the MMC 06 polling stations explained to the Sunday Express crew that two ballot papers were supposed to be used by each voter, one for electing the political party and another for the candidates for the contesting parties.

However, voters were last week allowed to elect only political parties as the other ballot paper for candidates had reflected the National Independent Party (NIP), which was not contesting, instead of the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) candidate.

‘Manchafatso Keketsi, one of the presiding officers at the Katlehong voting station said a combination of factors may have contributed to yesterday’s low voter turn-out compared to last weekend.

“It was raining when the stations opened at 7am and that led to a slow start in voting. People only started coming at around 10am when the rain had stopped,” she said.

Ms Keketsi attributed the voter apathy largely to wet weather conditions.

Another presiding officer working at Ha-Ratjomose polling station, Pijone Sekhonyana said while the rains were a major factor, a graduation ceremony at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) also contributed to the low turnout.

“By 12 noon last week, we had already assisted more than 40 people to vote but today it’s after 12pm and we have helped less than 15 people,” Mr Sekhonyana said.

However, one of the few voters that braved the rains to cast his vote in Ha-Hoohlo, Mokete Mphakalasi, said he cannot afford not to vote for the development of his area.

“Ha-Hoohlo is the first village visitors, including tourists, see when they cross the border into Lesotho. First impressions are important and I am voting for the improvement of my village, which is in a sorry state,” he said.

“We need proper vending facilities and sanitation to support many people operating their small businesses in the area. Ensuring proper planning would also attract development of infrastructure such as roads, water and sanitation; and good lighting at night. Street lights will help to reduce criminal activities in the area, particularly during the night.”

Mr Mphakalasi added that it was important for people to vote for the leadership they believe can bring the change they want.

In other municipal council elections, also held yesterday, there were some challenges when it was discovered that the ABC symbol was wrongly printed on the space which was supposed to bear the name of the DC candidate and the party’s logo in Khoelenya 07.

In Tosing 09, the cover page of the community council’s ballot paper books was wrongly written as that of Tosing 12.

 

 

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