Mines ac­cused of co­erc­ing work­ers

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

KAO, Liqhobong and Letšeng di­a­mond mines have been ac­cused of co­erc­ing their work­ers into sign­ing ad­vance vot­ers ap­pli­ca­tions by their em­ploy­ers in vi­o­la­tion of their rights, the Le­sotho Times has learnt.

The al­le­ga­tions are con­tained in let­ter writ­ten by the Con­struc­tion and Mine Work­ers Union (CAMAU) and Trans­for­ma­tion Re­source Cen­tre (TRC) to the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral com­mis­sion (IEC), call­ing on the lat­ter to in­ter­vene and pro­tect the rights of mine work­ers.

In the let­ter dated 25 April ad­dressed to the IEC di­rec­tor, Let­ho­let­seng Nts’ike, CAMAU Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ad­vo­cate Rapelang Mosae said, “it has come to our at­ten­tion as CAMAU and TRC that em­ploy­ees in the mines of Kao, Liqhobong and Letšeng have been put on to sign ad­vance vot­ers ap­pli­ca­tions with­out their con­sent”.

Na­tional elec­tions are due on 3 June af­ter the prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili-led coali­tion gov­ern­ment suc­cumbed to last month’s vote of no con­fi­dence by the op­po­si­tion bloc.

Ac­cord­ing to the IEC’S elec­tions time ta­ble, ad­vance vot­ers are ex­pected to have sub­mit­ted their re­quest for ad­mis­sion to vote by Satur­day 30 May.

The Na­tional Assem­bly elec­toral Act of 2011 chap­ter six on vot­ing in sec­tion 73 (1) lim­its the cat­e­gories of elec­tors el­i­gi­ble to be ad­mit­ted as ad­vance vot­ers.

The Act reads: “an elec­tor may ap­ply to vote as an ad­vance elec­tor if the elec­tor is not able to vote on the elec­tions day at the vot­ing sta­tion al­lo­cated to the elec­tor in terms of sec­tion 7 (1) (e) be­cause the elec­tor:

“Is a pub­lic of­fi­cer em­ployed in the ser­vice of the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho in an­other coun­try; is the de­pen­dent or em­ployee of such an of­fi­cer and who re­sides with the of­fi­cer in that other coun­try; is a pub­lic of­fi­cer who will be out­side Le­sotho on of­fi­cial duty on the elec­tions day;

“Is a can­di­date or agent; will be car­ry­ing out of­fi­cial elec­tions du­ties as an elec­tion of­fi­cer, a po­lice of­fi­cer or a mem­ber of the De­fence Force; or will be per­form­ing the func­tions of an elec­tions ob­server, jour­nal­ist, med­i­cal per­son­nel or se­cu­rity per­son­nel on the elec­tions day”.

How­ever, CAMAU al­leged that the mines sought to force work­ers to ap­ply for ad­vance vot­ing on the pre­text that “they will be on the work­ing shift” on the elec­tion day.

“It is our con­tention that this is a vi­o­la­tion of work­ers’ rights to force them to ap­ply for ad­vance vot­ing.

“It is equally im­por­tant to note that the Na­tional Assem­bly Elec­toral Act of 2011 sec­tion 73 (1) (a) to (e) cat­e­gor­i­cally states types of per­sons who qual­ify to vote as ad­vance vot­ers,” Ad­vo­cate Mosae said in the let­ter.

Ad­vo­cate Mosae fur­ther ar­gued that it is a crim­i­nal of­fence for em­ploy­ers to “force work­ers to pro­vide the IEC false in­for­ma­tion about em­ploy­ment de­tails in or­der to ma­nip­u­late the ap­pli­ca­tion for ad­vance vot­ing; pro­hibit work­ers from vot­ing Satur­day 3 June, 2017 on the ba­sis that they will be on the work­ing shift on that day”.

He there­fore called upon the IEC to make pub­lic an­nounce­ments to all em­ploy­ers that all their re­spec­tive em­ploy­ees would be af­forded time to vote as stip­u­lated by the Na­tional Assem­bly Elec­toral Act 2011 in Sec­tion 77.

He also re­quested that the IEC in­ves­ti­gates the al­le­ga­tions and take ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to re­dress the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and com­mu­ni­cate mea­sures taken to the union.

For his part, the TRC’S Tsikoane Peshoane ac­cused gov­ern­ment con­don­ing the for­eign busi­nesses’ cul­ture of con­tra­ven­ing the elec­toral act by its failure to des­ig­nate a spe­cial elec­toral day dur­ing the week.

Mr Peshoane said there was a dire need for the work­ers’ rights and their right to vote to be pro­tected by the IEC with pub­lic an­nounce­ments that would quell their fears of be­ing dis­en­fran­chised from the elec­tions.

Mean­while, the IEC spokesper­son, Tuoe Hantsi said only per­sons in the cat­e­gories pro­vided for by the elec­toral act would be ad­mit­ted as ad­vance vot­ers.

Mr Hantsi also said the list does not in­clude mine work­ers.

He fur­ther stated that the in­spec­tion of the ad­vance vot­ers’ roll is done by the com­mis­sion to­gether with legally man­dated rep­re­sen­ta­tives of po­lit­i­cal par­ties re­ferred to as party agents.

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