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Suspended IEC officer wins case

Staff Reporter

MASERU — The public relations officer of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) who was suspended in March will resume duty on Monday after a disciplinary panel threw out the commission’s case against him.
The commission’s case against Tuoe Hantši was thrown out on Friday morning.
Advocate Rethabile Sakoane who was chairing the hearing said there was no evidence to substantiate the charges against Hantši.
IEC’s acting director of elections, Mphasa Mokhochane, confirmed that the case against Hants’i had collapsed.
“Yes, I can confirm that the case has been dismissed and Hants’i will be called back to the office on Monday to resume his work,” Mokhochane said.
Hantši was suspended on March 20 for allegedly failing to perform and disobeying orders.
Since then he has been sitting at home but still enjoying full benefits.
Yesterday he declined to comment on the matter.
“I am still waiting for communication from the IEC after the case was dismissed. That is all I can say for now,” Hantši said.
Hantši was facing five charges, all of which were connected to the way he handled the commission’s pre-election publicity campaign. The charges were brought by Mokhochane who is his supervisor.
Mokhochane alleged that Hantši had published the IEC’s 2012 election logo without approval and had commented on Mo-Afrika, a private radio station, without consent from his bosses.
The acting director took exception to an impromptu question Hantši had answered during the radio interview.
In particular, Mokhochane was not happy that Hantši had said that MoAfrika’s broadcasting licence should be renewed because the media plays an important role in society.
Mokhochane also alleged that Hantši had disobeyed an order to make an announcement that voters were allowed to transfer from constituencies and amend their details even after voter registration for the 2012 election had closed.
He claimed that instead of making the announcement as instructed Hantši issued a statement to the contrary.
Hantši was also charged for misleading the public when he allegedly told Lena, a government controlled news agency, that there were 19 registered political parties in Lesotho.
The other charge was that Hantši had “formatted” an IEC advert without approval.
The advert had appeared
in different forms in different newspapers and the IEC blamed him for the mishap.
The only difference in the adverts was the paragraphing of the text.
The advert said civil servants who wanted to contest in the 2012 election should first resign from government.
The IEC wanted the text in the advert to appear in one paragraph but some newspapers made it two paragraphs while others made it three.
Advocate Sakoane’s decision to throw out the case seems to have been informed by the way Mokhochane answered questions when he was cross-examined my Hantši at the start of the hearing on Thursday.
During the cross-examination Mokhochane kept saying he had heard or had been told by someone about Hantši’s alleged transgressions.
Hantši had roped in a number of people to testify on his behalf but none of then took the witness stand because Advocate Sakoane said the hearing could not continue due to lack of evidence.
The case collapsed with Mokhochane being the only witness to take the stand.

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