ABC seethes over local govt bill

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ABC supporters sing & make party slogan at a rally
ABC supporters sing & make party slogan at a rally

Billy Ntaote

THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has accused government of abusing its power to achieve political ends in tabling the Local Government Amendment Bill which would extend councillors’ terms by up to a year.

The bill was tabled in the National Assembly this week, and ABC spokesperson Tefo Mapeselawho is also the Mokhotlong Constituency legislator – yesterday told the Lesotho Times the opposition would oppose the bill as it potentially undermined the intention to hold the local government polls scheduled for February or March 2017.

The Bill was introduced to parliament by Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs Minister Dr Pontšo Sekatle and it seeks to extend the term of office of elected councillors and those who were nominated by virtue of being chiefs.

The Bill further states that although the councillors’ term of office comes to an end on 1 October 2016, there were so many outstanding issues the ministry had to finalise meaning it would not be “feasible to hold the elections before October 2016”.

“The objective of this Bill is to provide the extension of office of councillors by a period not exceeding 12 months so as to avoid a vacuum in local government during the preparations for the elections,” reads part of the bill.

However, Mr Mapesela argued the bill was simply a disingenuous method hatched by the seven-party coalition government to delay elections beyond the agreed timeframes.

“They cannot be amending the law to suit their political interests as the parties in government. This law lacks a good cause for the advancement of the interests of the state and its citizens,” Mr Mapesela said.

The legislator said government’s decision to seize M54 million from the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) budget for local government elections to fund its highly contentious fleet services contract with Bidvest Bank Limited was an ominous sign.

“The fact that they have already taken the IEC’s funds suggests they may not even be considering holding the elections in February or March as agreed,” Mr Mapesela said.

“They could be delaying in order to hold them when they feel ready because they have lost their support in the grassroots and fear losing control of the local government councils.”

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