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Mahao demands new IEC commissioners for upcoming local govt elections


Mohloai Mpesi

The leader of Basotho Action Party (BAP) and former Minister of Law and Justice Professor Nqosa Mahao this week said the country cannot hold Local Government Elections (LGE) with the current Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s commissioners still at the helm of the electoral body.

Mahao said this in during a press on Tuesday this week.

Mahao accused the three commissioners, Mphasa Mokhachane who is the Chairman, Dr Karabo Mokobocho-Mohlakoana, and TÅ¡oeu Petlane of incompetence.

He said BAP had written three letters to the Council of State since January this year, requesting the council to advise His Majesty King Letsie III to establish a tribunal that would test the fitness of the commissioners to hold office.

He said their request was ignored.

Mahao also divulged that they had already served the council with a letter of demand and indicated that the lawyers were finalising the court papers to file an application for a writ of mandamus.

He said his party, BAP, will be joined by the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC), Basotho National Party (BNP), and All Basotho Convention (ABC), among others, to sue.

Prime Minister Ntsokoane Samuel Matekane has announced September 29, 2023, as the date of Local Government Elections in Legal Notice No.68 of 2023.

“Pursuant to section 23 of the Local Government Elections Act, 1998, and acting on the advice of the Minister responsible for the Local Government, Chieftainship, Home Affairs, and Police, I Ntsokoane Samuel Matekane, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, proclaim September 29, 2023, as the day on which the local government elections are to be held to return members of the local council for all Electoral Divisions.

“I direct the Director of Elections to cause the Local Government Elections to be conducted in accordance with the Local Government Elections Act 1998 on the day proclaimed above,” the Legal Notice read.

BAP first wrote to the Council of State in January this year asking it to advise His Majesty King Letsie III to set up a tribunal to investigate the commissioners’ fitness to hold office.

Acting senior private secretary to the king, Nyolosi Mphale acknowledged receipt of BAP’s letter on February 2, and said the party’s request was receiving active consideration in consultation with relevant government stakeholders to make sure that proper action and reaction is provided “on the issues raised in your letter”.

On March 21, Lebohang Thotanyana, secretary general of BAP, wrote a follow-up letter to Mphale saying reasonable timelines had lapsed and she should be in a position to provide a firm reaction to the party’s request.

“We take this matter as of national importance and critical to the well-being of democracy and good management of the state affairs. Leaving it hanging will most likely impact the upcoming Local Government Elections negatively,” Thotanyana.

Mphale reiterated that the matter was indeed receiving “serious attention that it deserves” and further vowed that the consultations that the Royal Palace advised BAP about when it acknowledged its first letter were at an advanced stage.

“Very soon you will be notified about the outcome of the consultations,” she said in a response on March 29.

April passed and on May 19, advocate Monaheng Rasekoai, the legal representative for BAP, wrote a letter of demand to the Royal Palace.

“The cumulative impact of issues raised by the client in the letter dated 13th January 2023 accompanied by this correspondence serves to illustrate that the Independent Electoral Commission of the Kingdom of Lesotho under the leadership of the current commissioners is not adequately meeting its constitutional and/or statutory obligations,” Rasekoai said.

He said the commissioners were not leading “this critical institution” as an efficient electoral management body and for that reason, their competence and/or fitness to hold office should be probed and/or interrogated.

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