IEC calls for harmonised polls
THE Independent Electoral Commission ( IEC) says the country should consider holding national and local government elections simultaneously in order to save resources.
IEC Commissioner, Advocate Mamosebi Pholo said this in her presentation at the recent national dialogue in Maseru which was convened to give political parties, civil society organisations, academia, media and communities a platform to discuss and come up with a blue-print for local government.
The dialogue was organised by the Development for Peace Education (DPE).
DPE is a civil society organisation that seeks to empower community based organisations to work collectively to promote peace.
Ms Pholo said that harmonising the local and national assembly elections would be cost effective especially when recruiting, training and deploying polling staff.
She said it took them at least 12 months to prepare for national
elections and needs 24 months to prepare for local government polls.
“It is ideal to combine the two elections in order to minimise the resources that will be used including the voters’ lists,” Ms Pholo said.
“There is one voters’ list for both elections and printing it once would be cost effective. All other election materials are similar except for the ballot paper.”
She said election preparation and monitoring were a complicated exercise that required expertise, passion and commitment.
She bemoaned the frequent collapse of governments which resulted early polls, saying this was taxing to the IEC.
“Carrying out elections more than once in five years can be strenuous not only to the IEC staff but also to the political parties, observers and voters themselves.”
She further said that local gov- ernment elections were not given the attention they deserved, even though they facilitated service delivery to communities.
She said in addition to saving costs, synchronising the elections would not only reduce campaign fatigue but also make canvassing and politicking easier since the messages would be consistent to all voters. For his part, Elections and Governance Consultant, Victor Shale, said Lesotho was still to develop the necessary conditions for the establishment of a functional and viable system of local government.
He said Lesotho was using the trial and error approach instead of developing comprehensive and structured legal and institutional frameworks.
“The politicians inherited the system that was used by British, which was not meant to develop the country.
“It is not a coincidence that all the towns are on the borders of the country. They were meant as the stations to export all the goods that Britain needed, and unfortunately our politicians have inherited it,” Mr Shale said.
He added that it was unfortunate that local government was not utilised to its full potential to transform communities.
“Local government in Lesotho is used as a reward for foot warriors, it does not have power.
“Local government is about the decentralisation of governance, public participation, policy formulation and service delivery,” Mr Shale said.