THE Democratic Congress (DC) has launched a fresh legal bid to nullify the constituency delimitation exercise by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) ahead of general elections due in October this year.
The second biggest party in the All Basotho Convention (ABC)-led governing coalition has joined forces with cabinet minister and Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader, Selibe Mochoboroane, to petition the Constitutional Court to set aside the constituency delimitation process.
In their court papers filed yesterday, they want the court to nullify the ongoing delimitation exercise and order the IEC to hold the elections using the current constituency boundaries.
The IEC, Law and Justice Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane, Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa and 50 other political parties have been cited as first to 53rd respondents respectively in the application. The cited parties include the ABC, Basotho National Party (BNP), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and business mogul Sam Matekane’s newly formed Revolutionary for Prosperity (RFP).
In their prayers, the DC and Mr Mochoboroane want the government gazette (Legal Notice 37 of 2022), which empowers the IEC to review the constituency boundaries, to be nullified.
“(The) Legal Notice 37 of 2022 (the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011 Constituency Delimitation Order) shall be reviewed and set aside as irregular and unlawful and therefore null and void.
“The decision of the first respondent (IEC) in terms of which it commissioned a review of constituencies, purporting to act in terms of the provisions of section 67 of the constitution as contained in legal notice 109 (National Assembly Electoral Constituency Delimitation Notice), dated 24 September 2021, be reviewed and set aside as invalid, irrational and unreasonable to the extent that it violates the provisions of section 67(3) of the constitution.
“The first respondent be ordered to prepare for national elections using the current constituency boundaries,” the DC and Mr Mochoboroane state.
The IEC is in the process of reviewing the constituency boundaries as mandated by section 67 of the Constitution. It has to divide Lesotho into 80 constituencies and review such constituency boundaries not more than 10 years after the last review. In this case, the last review was conducted in 2010, meaning that a new delimitation exercise is long overdue.
However, the congress parties are determined to stop the delimitation process and ensure that the upcoming elections are held using the 2010 constituencies.
The constituency review process was first challenged in December 2021 by DC secretary general, Tšitso Cheba, and the party’s aspiring MP for the Qaqatu constituency, Lethusang Kompi.
In their application, which is pending before High Court Judge Molefi Makara, the duo argues that the IEC must be stopped on the grounds that it began delimiting constituency boundaries when it had no commissioners in 2018.
They argue that the delimitation exercise was conducted under the supervision of the IEC’s director of elections and not the commissioners as provided for by section 135 of the National Assembly Act of 2011. Therefore, the ongoing delimitation exercise is illegal and must be stopped since it was started by unauthorised people, Messrs Cheba and Kompi argue.
Their pending application has not stopped the DC from filing a fresh application on the same matter, this time in league with Mr Mochoboroane. The latest application has been occasioned by the issuance of a gazette last month by the IEC indicating that it had delineated 80 electoral constituencies ahead of the elections.
The constituencies were delineated on the basis of the last census held in 2016. The DC insists that the census is outdated and cannot be used for the purpose.