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Voters turn up early, in numbers

Ntsebeng Motsoeli, ‘Mantoetse Maama & Lerato Matheka

MASERU – Scores of voters swamped polling stations around Maseru yesterday as early as 3am to cast their votes to elect a new government.
By the time voting started around 7am there were already long queues outside polling stations.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) polling officers at some of the centres visited by the Sunday Express said people started queuing hours before polling stations opened.
“People are coming in large numbers. Some came very early in the morning so they could cast their vote before queues got long,” said Mookho Mphonyo, a polling manager at Thamae LEC Primary in the Stadium Area constituency.
Mphonyo also noted that youths had cast their votes in large numbers unlike in previous general elections.
“The youth have voted in bigger numbers. Their turnout is good. It’s something we did not expect,” she said.
About 5 272 people were expected to vote at Thamae LEC Primary, said IEC officer, Mpho Lebakeng.
Lebakeng said no major problems were encountered since voting began except cases where names of about five people did not appear on the voters’ register even though some had their registration cards.
She however said that the names were sent back to IEC headquarters to investigate if there was any foul play.
“When the IEC head office clears the names a new list will be compiled and sent to the stations for voting to go on.
“But if there are some doubts about the credibility of the registration such person will not be allowed to vote,” Lebakeng said.
Mpho Mokoaleli, another station manager at Thamae LEC Primary, said three people were sent home because they had registered more than once.
“People who had registered more than once are sent home without getting a chance to vote,” Mokoaleli said.
Sebina Malope, a polling station manager at the Assembly Christian under the Maseru Central constituency, said a number of people failed to vote because their names did not appear on the register.
“Some people had not checked if their names appeared on the voters’ roll so they came all the way only to be referred to other stations. If they had checked their names first they would have known where to go to cast their votes,” Malope said.
She said that no serious problems were encountered since voting began at around 7am.
About 1 636 people were expected to cast their votes at the Assembly Christian polling station.
Long queues of voters were seen at Loretto polling station in Qoaling Constituency 34.
The Loretto polling station manager, ‘Mathapelo Makamane, said they had not encountered any problems since voting began.
“Everything is going on well. Communication is good between the IEC officers, observers and the voters. The youth are coming in big numbers,” Makamane said.
Lerato Pule, a 20-year-old voter at Loretto polling station, said she was happy that she had voted.
“I feel good that I have voted. I hope my vote will bring change. I trust I have made the right choice,” Pule said.
Teboho Mpai, 32, voted for the first time at the Thamae LEC polling station.
“I never felt compelled to vote before. I had to choose a government that I trust will improve things in our country. Now is the time for new beginnings. I cannot wait for the announcement of the result,” Mpai said.
However, some voters in Maseru told the Sunday Express that they were not allowed to cast their votes because their names did not appear on the voters’ roll.
Thabo Mahao said he was shocked when he went to Maseru LEC Primary School Polling centre and was told that his name did not appear on the voters’ list.
“I am furious because I know very well that I registered at this station so I don’t know why my name does not appear on the list,” said a dejected Mahao.
The polling manager at Sefika High School, Moketa Matsoso, said they had turned away about five people because their names did not appear on the voters’ list.
Matsoso said one of the people was registered as an advanced voter but he decided not to vote.
“His chance of voting had passed and we had no choice but to turn him away,” he said.
“Another case was of a woman whose name was transferred to another constituency but she did not know how it happened as she did not apply for a transfer.”
Tholang Mahlotsi, another voter, said he went to vote at Maseru Methodist Primary but failed after he was told that his name did not appear on the list at the station.
“This is surprising because I voted here during the by-elections and my name appeared. I don’t know why today they are saying my name does not appear on the roll,” Mahlotsi said.

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