IEC SUED OVER PR SEATS

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

THE Ba­sotho Demo­cratic Na­tional Party (BDNP) wants the High Court to nul­lify a gov­ern­ment gazette which de­clared 40 can­di­dates Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion (PR) Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPS) for the ninth Na­tional As­sem­bly, ar­gu­ing the cal­cu­la­tions were based on in­cor­rect fig­ures.

Ac­cord­ing to pa­pers filed be­fore the court on Wed­nes­day last week, the party wants “Gazette No 35 of 2015 re­lat­ing only to the Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion (PR) seats to be de­clared ir­reg­u­lar, null and void for its omis­sion of the Ba­sotho Demo­cratic Na­tional Party.”

The ap­pli­ca­tion also seeks the court to di­rect the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC), as the 1st re­spon­dent, to “pub­lish a fresh gazette re­lat­ing to the Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion seats, which in­clude the BDNP.”

The party’s ar­gu­ment is that the PR seats were cal­cu­lated based on in­cor­rect fig­ures, which ex­cluded in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates’ votes.

In his sup­port­ing af­fi­davit, the party’s vice-pres­i­dent, Pelele Let­soela says ex­clud­ing in­de­pen­dents in the cal­cu­la­tion de­nied his party a PR seat, which he says was then awarded to the Demo­cratic Congress (DC).

The DC was awarded 10 of the 40 PR seats in the wake of the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, which brought the party’s to­tal seats to 47 af­ter it had won 37 con­stituen­cies.

The DC has since formed a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with six other “Congress” par­ties, with its leader, Pakalitha Mo­sisili be­ing sworn-in as the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter on 17 March 2015.

Mr Let­soela notes in the af­fi­davit: “On 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015, Le­sotho went for gen­eral elec­tions.

“The ap­pli­cant (BDNP), as a reg­is­tered party with the 1st re­spon­dent (IEC), was a con­tes­tant with other reg­is­tered par­ties and fielded can­di­dates in con­stituen­cies like other po­lit­i­cal par­ties which chose to do so.

“There were also in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates.

“As pro­vided by the law, the ap­pli­cant was en­ti­tled and availed it­self of a list of its Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion list of which the present de­po­nent (my­self) was its 1st can­di­date.”

How­ever, Mr Let­soela stated the IEC got it wrong in award­ing the DC 10 PR seats, the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) 10 PR seats af­ter win­ning two con­stituen­cies, the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) six PR seats for win­ning 40 con­stituen­cies, and the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party six PR seats af­ter win­ning one con­stituency. The Popular Front for Democ­racy and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) re­ceived two PR seats each, while the Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress, Ba­sotho Congress Party, Mare­mat­lou Free­dom Party and Na­tional In­de­pen­dent Party were each awarded one PR seat.

But ac­cord­ing to Mr Let­soela, ex­clud­ing his party was a big mis­take by the IEC.

“The ex­er­cise went hor­ri­bly wrong when it came to Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion seats. It did not fol­low the for­mula set-out by Sec­tion 104 read with Sched­ule 3 of the Na­tional As­sem­bly Elec­tion Act No 14 of 2011.

“The ap­pli­cant be­lieves that in the cal­cu­la­tion, the 1st re­spon­dent (IEC) did not take into ac­count the votes of the elec­torate who voted for in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates in or­der to ar­rive at a re­quired quota to dis­trib­ute the 40 seats for PR as man­dated by the law,” he stated.

Mr Let­soela fur­ther states in the court pa­pers that the IEC re­lied on the fig­ure of 563, 922 as the to­tal num­ber of votes, ex­clud­ing 5651 who voted for in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates.

“That’s how the ex­er­cise went hor­ri­bly wrong and against the spirit and let­ter of Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion, one of its main ob­jec­tives be­ing that each vote be counted and where need be, it be rep­re­sented in par­lia­ment.

“The long and short of it is that the 1st re­spon­dent dis­trib­uted seats in ac­cor­dance with the model of ‘First-past-the-post’, only to twist it around to bring in Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion seats to dis­tort what the law pro­vided,” Mr Let­soela stated.

He gave an ex­am­ple of Likhet­lane con­stituency where he said Dr Ti­mothy Tha­hane con­tested the elec­tion as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date and re­ceived 1 715 votes.

Dr Tha­hane came sec­ond in the con­stituency be­hind an ABC can­di­date who had 3 143, while a DC rep­re­sen­ta­tive came third with 1 174 votes.

How­ever, Mr Let­soela ar­gued that Dr Tha­hane’s votes were not con­sid­ered when the PR seats were be­ing al­lo­cated, which he says should not have been the case.

Mr Let­soela added: “The cor­rect for­mula to be ap­plied af­ter adding the votes for po­lit­i­cal par­ties and in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates would be as fol­lows: 569, 623 ÷ 120 = 4 746.8583; rounded up = 4 747 quota.

“The net ef­fect of the cor­rect dis­tri­bu­tion of the pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion seats as demon­strated above would yield one seat for the BDNP. The cur­rent dis­tri­bu­tion ex­cludes the ap­pli­cant to its prej­u­dice.”

He fur­ther said the ex­clu­sion of his party from the ninth Par­lia­ment de­nied it fi­nan­cial benefits.

“The ap­pli­cant stands to lose all fi­nan­cial benefits which di­rectly re­late to it as more fully tab­u­lated be­low: For­fei­ture of M8, 000.00 Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion de­posit in terms of the law. For­fei­ture of M20, 000.00 an­nu­ally as a party for the seat it has been de­prived of. For­fei­ture of M80, 000.00 eq­uity an­nu­ally as a party in terms of the law. “In the re­sult and for rea­sons stated above, the ap­pli­cant prays that it be granted the re­lief prayed for in the no­tice of mo­tion.”

Mean­while, the re­spon­dents had not in­di­cated by yes­ter­day whether or not they would op­pose the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The re­spon­dents are the IEC, Speaker of the Na­tional As­sem­bly, Min­is­ter of Law, Con­sti­tu­tional and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs, At­tor­ney Gen­eral, all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties which con­tested the elec­tions and the 40 PR MPS.

BDNP Vice Pres­i­dent Pelele Let­soela.

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