Poll preparations: So far so good
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.