Govt yet to se­cure funds for elec­tion

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

THE min­is­ter of Hu­man rights, Law and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs, Haae Phoofolo, yes­ter­day told Se­nate gov­ern­ment is yet to se­cure fund­ing for next year’s gen­eral elec­tion.

An es­ti­mated m300 mil­lion is needed for the poll sched­uled for the end of Fe­bru­ary 2015.

The elec­tion had to be brought for­ward by two years after the coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to con­tinue work­ing to­gether un­til the end of its five-year term in 2017.

Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo, who had been asked by the Se­na­tors if prepa­ra­tions were on track for the snap elec­tion, said fund­ing re­mained one of the ma­jor chal­lenges fac­ing the In­de­pen­dent elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC).

The Se­na­tors also wanted to know if all the po­lit­i­cal party lead­ers are go­ing to hon­our the maseru Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Dec­la­ra­tion (MFD) they signed on 2 oc­to­ber 2014, un­der which par­lia­ment was to re­open on 17 Oc­to­ber and dis­solved two months later with elec­tions held in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

In ad­di­tion, the Se­na­tors also sought clar­ity on the dis­pute which led to the split be­tween the rul­ing par­ties, namely the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP).

Mokhot­long Prin­ci­pal Chief, Mathealira Seeiso, asked the Min­is­ter: “What is the time­line to­wards the elec­tions? What guar­an­tee is there that party lead­ers are go­ing to re­spect this Dec­la­ra­tion?”

In re­sponse, Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo said the MFD ap­peared well on track, save for the un­cer­tainty over fund­ing for the poll.

“What I have heard is that Par­lia­ment’s Business Com­mit­tee and the IEC are work­ing to­gether on all the is­sues that need to be ad­dressed re­gard­ing the poll.

“How­ever, I can’t give an es­ti­mate of what would have been com­pleted by such and such a date. I would need to go back and con­sult on some of th­ese is­sues you are ask­ing in or­der to fur­nish you with ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion,” Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo said.

Another ques­tion came from Se­na­tor Futho Hoohlo, who ex­pressed con­cern that par­lia­ment ap­peared to be un­der­min­ing the Dec­la­ra­tion by de­vi­at­ing from its roadmap, which dic­tated that only elec­tion­re­lated business would be dis­cussed from the leg­is­la­ture’s re­open­ing un­til its dis­so­lu­tion early De­cem­ber.

Se­na­tor Hoohlo said he had noted that some mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (mps) had wanted to amend the con­sti­tu­tion to limit the prime min­is­ter’s pow­ers, in vi­o­la­tion of the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity-bro­kered MFD.

“Your con­cerns have al­ready been ad­dressed by the po­lit­i­cal party lead­ers and the spirit of the MFD is go­ing to be fol­lowed in line with the con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho.

“How­ever, the mfd’s im­ple­men­ta­tion process could be weak­ened or de­railed by lack of funds for the elec­tion. How­ever, it is not like the min­istry of Fi­nance is not han­dling the is­sue; the min­istry is ac­tu­ally work­ing tire­lessly to­gether with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers to en­sure there is fund­ing for the elec­tions,” Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo said.

Con­tacted yes­ter­day on the avail­abil­ity of funds for the elec­tions, min­is­ter of Fi­nance, Leketekete Ketso, said his depart­ment had not been pre­sented with any re­quest for fund­ing or bud­get for the elec­tion by any­one, in­clud­ing the IEC.

“As far as I’m con­cerned, no­body has tabled a bud­get for the elec­tions be­fore the min­istry of Fi­nance, so we don’t know how much is needed for the poll,” Dr Ketso said.

“I have heard that the IEC is al­ready in­form­ing the elec­torate about the elec­tion, although we have not been given their bud­get as yet.”

min­is­ter of Hu­man rights, Law and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs Ad­vo­cate Haae Phoofolo

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