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Mokhothu praises Basotho for political tolerance

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’Marafaele Mohloboli/Bongiwe Zihlangu

OPPOSITION Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, has praised Basotho for exercising high levels of maturity political tolerance during the 7 October elections, despite blunders by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Addressing parliament this week following His Majesty, King Letsie III’s recent Speech from the Throne, Mr Mokhothu, who is also the leader of the opposition in the august house, said the IEC made some serious mistakes including presenting a faulty voters’ roll which omitted the names of some of the voters thus preventing them from exercising their right to vote.

Mr Mokhothu said such errors on the part of the IEC could easily have thrown the country into turmoil. But this did not happen because of maturity by voters, the DC leader said.

“The disputed 1998 polls which led to the torching of the country were handled in a far better way than the recent elections,” Mr Mokhothu said. He said the mistakes made by the IEC in the recent elections were enough to “burn” the country and should be looked into.

He added that while he agreed with His Majesty that the elections were free and fair, there were many challenges that needed to be addressed to improve the management of elections in the country.

“His Majesty said the elections were peaceful, free transparent. I agree with him in full on two issues, namely, that Basotho displayed exceptional political tolerance and different political parties campaigned freely.”

He said that while last months’ elections were free, there were some challenges of voters failing to find their names on voter’s roll. Transparency on such issues needs to be improved. When the voters’ roll is not clean and the names of the voters are moved to different centres without being notified, such a roll will yield us very repugnant elections.”

He said the late recruitment of polling officers ahead of the elections could also have contributed to “the messy elections” as they did not get enough time to familiarise themselves with the election processes.

He said stakeholders need to come together to review the laws governing the administration of elections and hiring of staff.

He also urged the IEC not to rest on its laurels after elections, saying it should engage in continuous voter education and registration of new voters.

“As it is, the IEC is way too relaxed, yet the local government elections are just around the corner and need to be prepared for.

“They shouldn’t stop voter registration at all. Sometimes they stop because there is no money. The budget is very minimal, we have to find a better way to give the IEC enough funds instead of giving them in bits,” Mr Mokhothu said.