Poll prepa­ra­tions: So far so good

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

SLOWLY but surely, the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 gen­eral elec­tions loom ever closer with the pieces of the jig­saw puz­zle com­ing to­gether with each pass­ing day. Bal­lot papers for the ad­vance poll were brought into the coun­try from South Africa yes­ter­day, while the rest would be de­liv­ered on Satur­day.

Kick-start­ing the elec­tion process will be 3 549 ad­vance vot­ers who are ex­pected to cast their bal­lot on Satur­day.

Yes­ter­day the SADC Elec­toral Ob­ser­va­tion Mis­sion (SEOM), headed by South African In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Maite Nkoana-masha­bane, rolled into town, with the man­date to ob­serve the snap polls. SEOM is un­der the am­bit of the Southern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co-op­er­a­tion chaired by SA Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

In her speech at the SEOM launch yes­ter­day, Ms Nkoana-masha­bane stressed that while SADC fully sup­ported the elec­tions process, “the de­ci­sion lies in the hands of the peo­ple to re­solve their po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences peace­fully; re­build and de­velop their own na­tion of the King­dom of Le­sotho”.

It is only Ba­sotho, she said who can find a last­ing so­lu­tion that will lead to peace, se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the King­dom.

Ms Nkoana-masha­bane also urged the con­tenders to ac­cept and re­spect of the elec­tion re­sults “pro­claimed to have been free and fair by the com­pe­tent Na­tional Elec­toral Au­thor­i­ties in ac­cor­dance with the law of the land”. In­deed, we couldn’t have put it bet­ter our­selves. Our politi­cians must rise to the oc­ca­sion and ac­cept the will of the peo­ple. We ap­plaud Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy leader, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, who has al­ready promised to ac­cept the re­sults “even if we don’t be­come the out­right win­ners”.

Hope­fully, we will hear more of such state­ments from po­lit­i­cal party lead­ers who will sign an Elec­toral Pledge on Satur­day to reaf­firm their com­mit­ment to a free and fair elec­tion and de­clare their ac­cep­tance of the out­come of the vote.

IEC Com­mis­sioner, Makase Nyaphisi, has also weighed in on the is­sue else­where in this is­sue, say­ing the great­est chal­lenge Le­sotho faces is how par­ties will re­act to the elec­tion re­sults.

The can­di­dates also need to tone down on the mil­i­tant talk, which is only stok­ing more ten­sion es­pe­cially among im­pres­sion­able sup­port­ers. Re­gret­tably some con­tes­tants have threat­ened to chase away their po­lit­i­cal foes once they as­sume power, which de­feats the whole con­cept of democ­racy.

Lest some of us have for­got­ten, there is life af­ter the 28th of Fe­bru­ary. The chal­lenges we are cur­rently fac­ing will still be there, hence the need to fo­cus on the is­sues rather than the per­son­al­i­ties.

How­ever, it does not re­quire a rocket sci­en­tist to de­duce that the only way the elec­tions can be cred­i­ble and be ac­cepted by all the con­tes­tants is if all the stake­hold­ers’ con­duct re­mains above board. In the event some can­di­dates play dirty, a vig­i­lant pub­lic should re­port such in­di­vid­u­als to both the po­lice and the me­dia to nip any ma­nip­u­la­tion in the bud.

Else­where in this edi­tion, Koro-koro res­i­dents re­ported a pos­si­ble case of vote buy­ing af­ter they were al­legedly of­fered 12.5 kilo­gramme bags of ex­pired maize-meal to vote for LCD can­di­date Tšoanelo Ra­makeoana.

Whether Mr Ra­makeoana is guilty of vote-buy­ing is still sub­ject to in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but what is heart-warm­ing is that mem­bers of the Koro-koro re­fused to be bought and re­ported what they saw as un­be­com­ing con­duct.

The army has also made the right noises, telling SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor, Cyril Ramaphosa, they will stay in the bar­racks on polling day and only come out when they are asked to pro­vide as­sis­tance.

Hope­fully, the Le­sotho De­fence Force will keep their prom­ise and al­lay the fears of vot­ers afraid to ex­er­cise their right fol­low­ing the events of 29 Au­gust.

All we can say for now is so far so good. Hope­fully, the rel­a­tive peace and tran­quil­lity we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing con­tin­ues to pre­vail.

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