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Parties fail to account for IEC funds

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

VARIOUS political parties including the ruling Basotho National Party (BNP) have failed to account for M12 million they received from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to finance their activities from 2015 to 2018.

The BNP is part of the governing coalition along with the All Basotho Convention (ABC), the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) and the Alliance of Democrats (AD).

Political parties receive annual funding in varying amounts from the IEC to cover their day-to-day operational expenses and they also receive campaign funds during election periods.

And on Monday, the Public Accounts Committee was told of how the BNP, the Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP) and the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) had failed to account for funds allocated to them. The parties said they could not account for the funds as they were allegedly embezzlement by their officials.

The deputy leader of the BDNP, Pelele Letsoela, the BNP deputy secretary general, Tšepo Monethi and the MFP treasurer, Ntšihlele Ntšihlele told the PAC chairperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, that some members of their parties who had been entrusted with the allocations of the funds allegedly diverted the monies to their own personal use.

Messrs Letsoela, Monethi and Ntšihlele however, did not disclose the exact amounts they were fleeced of by their officials.

Mr Ntšihlele said a fraud case had been opened against two party members and an employee at a local bank who allegedly stole the party funds.

“Two party members were assisted by a bank employee to fraudulently withdraw money from the party account. The incident was reported to the IEC. A case has been opened against the three and the police are still investigating the matter,” Mr Ntšihlele said.

Mr Letsoela said internal investigations were on to discover those responsible for the missing party funds and they would open a fraud case once the investigations were complete.

Mr Monethi said his party was also investigating two members who allegedly disappeared with an undisclosed amount of money that they were given to pay party agents in the Kolonyama and Qeme constituencies during the 2015 elections.

IEC documents show that the BNP has failed to account for M495 450 out of the M918 100 that the IEC had allocated for the party as stipends for its agents in the 2015 elections.

Meanwhile the IEC director, Letholetseng Ntsike, said they were concerned with lack of accountability by the political parties.

Dr Ntsike said it was disturbing that the parties collectively failed to account for M12 618 669, 14 of money they have received since 2015.

The IEC’s chief legal officer, Lehlohonolo Suping, said by failing to meet the deadlines to submit their financial records, the parties were in breach of section 107(1) of the Elections Act of 2011 that binds them to account for the allocations that they get from the commission for their expenses.

Section 107 (1) stipulates that, “fifty days after the publication of the results of general elections, a political party registered with the commission shall transmit to the director a statement of all expenses incurred in contesting the election together with all bills and receipts,” Mr Suping said.

He said the delay in the party submissions were hindering the commission from submitting its reports to the parliament.

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