As the date for the general elections slated for Spring this year approaches, legal provisions governing elections are at the risk of being flouted as a result of the elections excitement, Newsday has learnt.
According to the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011 section 60 (3), a political party registered with the commission may only campaign in public as soon as it is practicable after the proclamation has been made and after the Director has through a gazette, published a copy of the proclamation and an elections timetable.
â€œA political party registered with the Commission may only campaign in public from the day on which the notice contemplated in section 37 (3) or 38 (4) is published and until 24 hours before voting begins on the elections day.â€
Section 37 (3) states that â€œas soon as it is practicable after the proclamation has been made under subsection (1), the director shall by notice in the gazette, publish a copy of the proclamation and an elections timetable in accordance with form 3 in schedule 1 and the provisions of this actâ€
The feeling is held by a former parastatal administrator Futho Hoohlo, who has since left his position as Chief Executive Officer of the Water and Sewage Company and turned politician joining newly-formed Empowerment Movement for Basotho (EMB) and become its Secretary General.
In an interview with Newsday yesterday, Hoohlo said that is basically illegal what has seen being going on in the country as the time for elections approaches in line with legal provisions.
â€œI see political parties hopping onto a bandwagon to launch their partiesâ€™ manifestos before the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission), declares the elections period, what they are doing is illegal,â€ Hoohlo said.
He said the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011 clearly states when political parties can start campaigning saying â€œâ€¦they are only allowed by the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011 to publicly campaign for elections once the Proclamation of Elections by the Director of Elections through a Government Gazzette has been published and the elections period (3 months) declared through the proclamation.
He said the launch of manifestos by other political parties is a sign of endemic lawlessness in this country.
â€œThis is blatant disregard of the rule of law. I bet you in all the manifestos they have illegally launched to date, they all have a chapter on enuring law and order, yet they themselves are breaking the law,â€ Hoohlo said.
IECâ€™s Public Relations Manager Tuoe HantÅ¡i, however, told this publication that the National Assembly Act of 2011 section 60 (3) has been interpreted wrongly.
He said what political parties do now before the elections period has been declared has nothing to do with what the law says adding that it is only after the declaration that political parties are expected to all be seen campaigning is preparation for elections.
â€œWhat political parties do before the declaration of the election period does not matter but the minute the declaration has been made, we are expecting to see all parties campaigning including those who have been quiet all along,â€ Hantá¹¡i said.
By law, holds general elections within every five years, and since the last edition of elections was on June 03, 2017, the subsequent edition is expected to be this year,
With the understanding, different political parties have launched their political campaigns in preparation for the elections slated for about October.