IEC or­ders PM’S wife to stop dona­tions

…or­ders PM’S wife to stop ‘of­fer­ing gifts to vil­lagers’ ahead of poll

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

The In­de­pen­dent elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) has or­dered the Prime Min­is­ter’s spe­cial Projects Of­fice to stop of­fer­ing gifts to vil­lagers around the coun­try ahead of the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tion, ar­gu­ing this is a vi­o­la­tion of the coun­try’s elec­toral laws.

The de­mand comes shortly af­ter the main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Congress (DC) lodged a com­plaint with the Com­mis­sion al­leg­ing the rul­ing All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) had breached elec­toral laws by us­ing state re­sources to cam­paign for the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

The DC, led by for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili, fur­ther noted in a let­ter dated 16 De­cem­ber 2014, that by so do­ing, the two par­ties had vi­o­lated the Elec­toral Pledge signed by party lead­ers and other stake­hold­ers on 11 De­cem­ber 2014, com­mit­ting to a free and fair poll.

In re­sponse, the IEC—IN an ur­gent let­ter dated 22 De­cem­ber 2014 and ad­dressed to Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice Pitso Maisa—notes it had come to the at­ten­tion of the Com­mis­sion that “the Of­fice of Spe­cial Projects of the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice (headed by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s wife, Li­a­biloe ‘Mai­sa­iah Tha­bane) is hold­ing some public gath­er­ings around the coun­try. It has also come to the at­ten­tion of the Com­mis­sion that dur­ing th­ese public gath­er­ings, some gifts and dona­tions are handed out to some mem­bers of the com­mu­nity within the rel­e­vant ar­eas.”

The let­ter, which is en­dorsed by the IEC Chair­per­son, Ma­hapela Le­hohla, and copied to Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, fur­ther reads: “I wish to ad­vise your good of­fice that by its very na­ture, that Of­fice of Spe­cial Projects and its sit­u­a­tion in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice, has a cer­tain po­lit­i­cal stature.

“I wish to fur­ther ad­vise that upon the com­mence­ment of the elec­tion pe­riod (on 8 De­cem­ber) cer­tain ac­tiv­i­ties which, by their very na­ture, may be seen to be in con­tra­ven­tion of the Elec­toral Act of 2011, have to be ter­mi­nated. I there­fore, am humbly obliged to re­quest your good of­fices to di­rect the Of­fice of Spe­cial Projects to cease hold­ing the said public gath­er­ings as con­tin­u­ance thereof bor­ders on the vi­o­la­tion of the law.”

The IEC Act­ing Direc­tor of Elec­tions ’Ma­matlere Pon­tšo Matete yes­ter­day con­firmed to the Le­sotho Times that the Com­mis­sion had in­deed writ­ten to the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice fol­low­ing a com­plaint from the DC.

Ms Matete added: “And that is­sue has since also been put be­fore the Com­mis­sion’s Tri­bunal team to work on it.”

Mean­while, the DC had wanted the IEC and South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Team in Le­sotho to take ac­tion against the ABC and Bnp—which formed a coali­tion gov­ern­ment along­side the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) in June 2012, but ended the mar­riage ac­rimo- niously lead­ing to the early poll— for the “ram­pant use of state re­sources and gen­er­ous dona­tions of food parcels and cloth­ing for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses against the Elec­toral Code of Con­duct of 2011 and 2014 Elec­toral Pledge”.

In his let­ter to the IEC dated 15 De­cem­ber 2014, DC Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Ralechate ’Mokose wrote: “Prime Min­is­ter and ABC leader, Dr Mot­soa­hae Thomas Tha­bane, went on a po­lit­i­cal mission to the moun­tain con­stituency of Hloahlo­eng No 63.

He was ac­com­pa­nied by his ‘part­ner’, Miss Li­a­biloe Ramo­holi, the Hon­ourable Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Food Se­cu­rity, Mr Litšoane Litšoane, the Dis­trict Ad­min­is­tra­tor for Mohale’s Hoek, and many public ser­vants from the min­istries of Agri­cul­ture, Health and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment.”

In ad­di­tion to the eight ve­hi­cles in the prime min­is­ter’s con­voy and three in Miss Ramo­holi’s con­voy, Mr ’Mokose noted, there were many other gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cles, “in­clud­ing those with reg­is­tra­tion num­bers Y1384, Y1624, Y4107 and Y4227.

“At this oc­ca­sion, the fol­low­ing items were dis­trib­uted to the elec­torate: A 5 kilo­gramme packet of rice, one tin of baked beans, 1 kg pocket of sugar, 12.5 kg pocket of maize-meal, and one pocket of can­dles. In sim­i­lar fash­ion, the Min­is­ter of Gen­der and Youth, Sports and Recre­ation (who is also BNP leader), Hon­ourable Th­e­sele ’Maserib­ane fol­lowed much the same prac­tice in Mount Moorosi No 67 con­stituency where he dis­trib­uted var­i­ous items of cloth­ing to the elec­torate on the same day.

“Our sub­mis­sion is that the above ac­tiv­i­ties con­sti­tute a breach of the Code of Con­duct of 2011, specif­i­cally Ar­ti­cle 4 which states as fol­lows: All those bound by this Code in terms of Sec­tion 22, through­out the elec­tion pe­riod, give ef­fect to the fol­low­ing un­der­tak­ings and stip­u­la­tions: (i) To re­frain from us­ing a po­si­tion of power, priv­i­lege or in­flu­ence for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses, in­clud­ing; (i) in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment power such as state fa­cil­i­ties and trans­port.”

The dc also con­tended “the above ac­tiv­i­ties con­tra­vene the Elec­toral Pledge signed in front of the SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor (South Africa’s Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa) by lead­ers of po­lit­i­cal par­ties and other stake­hold­ers, es­pe­cially where it says un­der 19.5: Ab­stain from of­fer­ing ma­te­rial in­duce­ments to in­flu­ence party membership, event at­ten­dance, vot­ing de­ci­sions or can­di­dacy nom­i­na­tions; 19.6 re­frain from us­ing so­cial or in­sti­tu­tional power for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.

“Our ob­ser­va­tion is that this ram­pant use of state re­sources and gen­er­ous dona­tions of food parcels and cloth­ing for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses is a gen­eral trend on the part of the ABC and BNP. It is be­ing used as a dou­ble-edged sword. On the one hand, it is in­tended to de­lib­er­ately dis­rupt the elec­tion process by will­fully un­der­tak­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that will at­tract protest and in­dig­na­tion, while on the other, it is meant to bring un­fair po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage to th­ese two po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

“We re­quest the IEC and SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Team to take prompt and de­ci­sive ac­tion against th­ese two par­ties and that the IEC will re­ply to us in seven days to ad­vise us about the steps that are be­ing taken with re­gard to this mat­ter.

“We also re­quest the IEC to make the nec­es­sary pro­nounce­ments such that no other party or stake­holder will en­ter into pro­grammes that can have the ef­fect of de­rail­ing the elec­toral process in any way. In this spe­cific case, the SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Mission has the ad­van­tage that the Prime Min­is­ter is un­der the di­rect guard of the South African po­lice who know, at all times, where he goes and what he does.”

Mean­while, the Le­sotho Times has learnt that on 22 De­cem­ber 2014 – the same day the IEC wrote to the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice – the SADC Head of Ob­server Mission in Le­sotho, Am­bas­sador Fan­nie Mfana Phakola, wrote to the com­mis­sion about the is­sue.

He noted: “We are in re­ceipt of a copy of a let­ter from the Demo­cratic Congress (DC), ad­dressed to you and dated 16 De­cem­ber 2014. In the let­ter, the DC is com­plain­ing that the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) have breached the Elec­toral Code of 2011 and the Elec­toral Pledge that was signed by lead­ers of po­lit­i­cal par­ties and other stake­hold­ers on 11 De­cem­ber 2014.

“I wish to ex­press hope that the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, as the body charged with the con­duct and man­age­ment of elec­toral pro­cesses in the King­dom of Le­sotho, is ad­dress­ing the com­plaint raised by the DC.”

Ef­forts to get com­ments from both the ABC and BNP were fruit­less un­til the time of go­ing to print last night.

Li­a­biloe ‘Mai­sa­iah Tha­bane (right) gives Fusi Maqhashela a wheel­chair and gro­ceries in Mapoteng in Oc­to­ber.

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