IEC warns over party agents

Lesotho Times - - News - Mot­samai Mokotjo

PO­LIT­I­CAL par­ties that have failed to pay their agents dur­ing the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 gen­eral elec­tions are putting the next elec­tions, sched­uled for 2020, in jeop­ardy since they would be “wary to work for noth­ing”.

This was said by In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) Deputy Di­rec­tor of Elec­tions Mphasa Mokhochane on Tues­day dur­ing a meet­ing con­vened by the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on Law and Public Safety in Maseru to probe the causes for the de­lays in pay­ing pri­vate com­pa­nies for ser­vices ren­dered.

Mr Mokhochane said it was wor­ry­ing that some po­lit­i­cal par­ties had opted not to pay their agents de­spite be­ing pro­vided with the funds to do so by the elec­toral body.

“It is go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult to man­age the 2020 elec­tions if party agents are not paid,” he said.

“If truth be told, we gave the par­ties money.”

Mr Mokhochane said in in­stances where there were two party agents at a polling sta­tion, they would share M300, yet when there was one he or she would be paid the whole M300.

“We wrote to party sec­re­tary gen­er­als ask­ing them how many party agents they had paid. Only four par­ties had rec­on­ciled their pay­ments,” he said.

The IEC Deputy Di­rec­tor of Elec­tions said “big par­ties”, whose names he re­fused to di­vulge, were lag­ging be­hind in pay­ments.

He said some of the de­fault­ing par­ties had ac­cused the IEC of not giv­ing them enough money to pay their agents de­spite not rec­on­cil­ing their dis­burse­ments.

“We met party del­e­gates to hear their prob­lems and they said the IEC made mis­takes in terms of pay­ments. They de­manded more money even though they had not rec­on­ciled what we had given them,” Mr Mokhochane said.

He said the IEC could not just dish out money willy-nilly since the com­mis­sion’s books were pe­ri­od­i­cally au­dited.

Mr Mokhochane said the first mon­e­tary batch was re­leased af­ter the elec­tions, adding that they were now await­ing for the par­ties to rec­on­cile their dis­burse­ments.

A mem­ber of the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee and Thaba-moea con­stituency MP, Tjoet­sane Seoka, asked Mr Mokhachane whether there was a stan­dard amount paid to the party rep­re­sen­ta­tives, since “it is M300 for some and M3 000 for oth­ers”.

Mr Mokhochane, how­ever, was eva­sive in his re­sponse, say­ing party agents were “paid by our of­fices in the dis­tricts”.

His re­sponse drew the ire of the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee’s chair­per­son, Li­neo Molise-mabusela, who queried why agents had not been paid six months af­ter the elec­tion.

“We end up tak­ing money from our own pock­ets to pay agents. We want to know when they will be paid,” Ms Molise-mabusela said.

Matelile con­stituency MP Maimane Maphathe also quizzed Mr Mokhochane on the mea­sures the IEC had taken to en­sure the party agents were paid.

“Some in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates used the money for their per­sonal de­vices. Why not in­vite the Di­rec­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Borotho Mat­soso to probe this is­sue?”

In his re­sponse, Mr Mokhochane said the IEC had called for a meet­ing with po­lit­i­cal par­ties to­day to “dis­cuss how best to ap­proach the is­sue”.

“We are also go­ing to the par­ties’ of­fices. We are now go­ing to mon­i­tor pay­ments to en­sure rec­on­cil­i­a­tions are done,” he said.

She asked the of­fi­cials to ex­plain the rea­sons for obli­gat­ing busi­nesses to re­sub­mit their tax clear­ances be­fore be­ing paid.

DCEO Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Borotho Mat­soso, re­sponded say­ing the Trea­sury depart­ment re­quired busi­nesses to fur­nish them with tax clear­ances to fa­cil­i­tate pay­ment.

“I also urge the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee to in­vite the Le­sotho Rev­enue Au­thor­ity and Trea­sury to such fo­rums so that they can also ex­plain the rea­sons for the bu­reau­cracy that ham­pers the pay­ment pro­cesses,” Ad­vo­cate Mat­soso said.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs owed sup­pli­ers M700 000, although of­fi­cials from the min­istry said they had al­ready paid M400 000. The ju­di­ciary, which in­cludes the Ap­peal Court, High Court, Mag­is­trates’ Court among oth­ers owed over M600 000.

The Jus­tice Hu­man Rights and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices min­istry, the re­port said, owed M1 mil­lion which was dis­puted by min­istry of­fi­cials who said they owed M130 000. The late pay­ment of sup­pli­ers by gov­ern­ment is a peren­nial prob­lem cited by pri­vate sup­pli­ers in grow­ing their busi­nesses.

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