In a recent dialogue focused on the 2023 Local Government Elections, key stakeholders urged the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to ensure equitable distribution of election advertisements across all media outlets.
The one-day workshop held in Maseru brought this issue to the forefront.
Media practitioner, Boitumelo Koloi, who attended the workshop criticised the IEC’s selective approach in allocating advertisements.
“The IEC must provide advertisements to every media organisation publishing in both English and Sesotho.
“Side-lining certain media organisation under the assumption they don’t have enough following is discriminatory because every media platform has its own admirers,” Koloi asserted.
Participants emphasised the importance of continuous election advertising, not just during the election period to better inform voters about registration processes.
This they said would reduce last-minute pressures.
They also highlighted the need for the IEC to embrace technology to improve voter registration and the overall voting experience.
Concerns were raised about the IEC’s inadequate preparation for local government elections compared to national elections.
Stakeholders suggested that the IEC should actively engage citizens to underscore the importance of voting whether for local, bi or general elections.
Collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs was proposed to clean and verify the voters’ roll as that would ensure accuracy in voter details and help identify deceased individuals, thus maintaining the integrity of the electoral process.
A strong call was made for the IEC to maintain its independence from government influence.
Doris Tšosane, IEC’s officer for civic voter and electoral education, acknowledged the feedback and assured that these concerns would be taken seriously.
“Ensuring the IEC’s independence is paramount to protect our reputation. We recognise our shortcomings and are committed to addressing them,” Tšosane stated.
The workshop marked a significant step in enhancing the transparency and effectiveness of the electoral process in the region.