Call for continuous voter registration
CiViL Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for a continuous voter registration exercise to enable the electorate to exercise their right to vote. The Lesotho Council of non-governmental Organisations (LCn), Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) and the Campaign for Education Forum (CEF) made the call in a joint statement which was released in Maseru in the aftermath of the recent local government elections.
They said it was encouraging to see that the “elections were highly contested by political parties and independent candidates, unlike in the previous polls, which indicates that more people are getting interested in the election including young people”.
They however, noted that, “there had been instances where a number of voters’ rolls (old and new) were used during polling in an effort to remedy the persistent gaps in the final voters’ rolls”.
“This situation calls for serious revamping of the voters’ roll in order to allow every voter an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”
They also blamed the independent Electoral Commission (iEC) for what they said was low voter turn-out.
“Local government elections have always been signified by a low voter turnout. These elections were no exception and this can be attributed to a number of factors such as non-provision for advance voting as is usually done in the general elections.
“Most of the iEC staff were deployed in voting stations away from those they were registered in and this meant that they were denied the opportunity to cast their votes,” part of the statement reads.
The CSOs also said the low turnout could also be attributed to the fact that many businesses opened on the day of polling, thus denying some voters the opportunity to vote.
Political parties were not spared as they were accused of showing “very little commitment” to persuading their supporters to vote.
The CSOs further noted the failure to provide special facilities for disabled people to enable them to exercise their voting rights without being compromised.
“One of the foundational pillars of democratic elections is that they must they must be inclusive and responsive to the needs of the disabled sections of the society.
“The electoral process did not provide a special process and/or support for the voting of the disabled people, particularly the visually impaired and those with speech and hearing impairments,” they said, adding, some of the voting stations were “inaccessible to the physically disabled”.
They recommended that the iEC engages non-governmental organisations on improving the ongoing voter education to ensure its effectiveness, consistency and compliance with the national laws so as to avoid confusion.
“There was a lot of confusion for the voters as three ballot papers were used and this placed a lot of burden on the iEC staff who constantly had to explain thus slowing the whole voting process,” they said.