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Opposition leaders walk out of IEC meeting

Business

Lehlohonolo Motšoari and Kabelo Tjeketsi

Opposition political party leaders made a dramatic exit from a meeting organised by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) at the IEC headquarters citing irregularities in the commission’s protocol.

Litaba Mohase, leader of the Basotho Economic Enrichment (BEE), one of the party leaders who was present at the meeting, highlighted concerns regarding the scheduled discussion of three IEC bills: the Independent Electoral Commission Bill, National Assembly Electoral (Amendment) Bill, and the Political Parties Bill – 2024.

Mohatle stated the need to postpone the Political Parties Bill to avoid potential clashes with the forthcoming Amendment to the Constitution Bill commonly known as Omnibus Bill expected to be tabled before the National Assembly.

He explained: “We were not against the discussion of this bill; we were simply proposing to withhold it until we are clear about the details of the Omnibus Bill after it has been passed before the National Assembly so that this Political Parties Bill does not clash with the Constitution.”

He expressed disappointment that their plea was overlooked by the chair of the meeting, IEC chairman Mphasa Mokhochane, who allegedly proceeded with the discussion despite opposition from the majority of political party leaders present

“It is for this reason we called for a press briefing to let the public know that the Political Parties Bill together with those other bills are solely IEC bills, we have no part in them,” Mohatle said.

Mohase also asserted that the majority of political party leaders, including those within the government, opposed Mokhochane’s decision to proceed with discussions on the bill.

In an interview with Newsday last night, Mohase disclosed that Mokhochane insisted the meeting would continue to discuss the bill regardless of their objections.

Mohase expressed frustration, saying: “That is what infuriated us, and we wondered; who is this person, who sent him, whose agenda is he pushing? Section 66 of the Omnibus Bill addresses the registration of political parties. Why can’t we wait until the Omnibus Bill has been passed and enacted into the Constitution before enacting the Political Parties Bill to ensure compliance with the Constitution?”

Lydia Macheli of the IEC described the meeting as successful.

Macheli said: “The committee that was present today is the advisory committee, and the 11 members who remained were sufficient to advise the commission on its role in overseeing election matters in the country.”

She further clarified that they thoroughly examined the bill and determined that it would not conflict with the Omnibus Bill.

The parties that walked out are BEE, African Ark (AA), Lesotho Economic Freedom Fighters (LEFF), Basotholand Total Liberation Congress (BLTC), Basotho National Party (BNP), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP), Yearn for Economic Sustainability (YES), Bahlabani ba Tokoloho Movement (BTM), Basotho Redevelopment Party (BRP), and African Unity Movement (AUM).

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