IEC calls for har­monised polls

Sunday Express - - NEWS -

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.

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