Basotho Action Party (BAP) has written a letter to the Council of State seeking the removal of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) commissioners in individual and collective capacities.
In a letter directed to the Council of State secretary general BAP wanted the dismissal of the commissioners based on their incompetence to hold by-elections, mismanagement of the delimitation exercise, failure to release voter lists in time, and failure to calculate the PR seats properly.
“We are concerned about the incumbent commissioners’ performance and their ability to discharge their responsibilities. IEC is a very sensitive institution that requires leadership that demonstrates care and diligence in the execution of its responsibilities,” the letter said.
“We observed over time the commissioners’ inability to handle their responsibilities with due diligence and sensitivity required from the incumbent of such a high office. The inability of the commission to organize by-elections as it is required by the constitution in five constituencies and local councils”
“This was a very crucial matter given the fact that people from about five constituencies and several local councils were denied the constitutional right to participate in the running affairs of the country because the IEC neglected to hold the by-elections”
“Whilst IEC made an excuse that the government failed to provide funding this is neither here nor there as IEC is an independent body that ought to have taken necessary measures including but not limited to seeking legal redress against the government to protect its mandate and democratic right to citizens. IEC seems to have outsourced its independence and has effectively become a government department under the full direction of the executive”
“This we find to be a serious dereliction of their constitutional body and responsibility. IEC is required to maintain population balance between constituencies when undertaking the delimitation exercise with an allowance of 10% variance. This is a constitutional obligation bestowed on the commission”
BAP says the last delimitation exercise was disastrous with the issuing and gazetting of a version of proposed constituencies that had a variance close to 40% in one constituency.
“The gazette was done late despite the IEC having a near-correct version well ahead of the elections. The matter ended up in the courts of law where IEC’s incompetence was made bear”
“The impact of the act has been immense and affected political parties’ ability to adjust to new demarcations as well smooth running of elections hence affecting the integrity of a democratic project as a whole”
BAP says fundamental to credible and fair elections is the integrity of the voters’ list “The IEC twice issued voters list that bore serious discrepancies. Even the last one issued on the eve of the day of the elections manifested countless discrepancies, with some voter names surfacing in voting centers they were not registered in or at all”
“Compounding the problem was the delay in the distribution of the voter list such that many voting centers party agents did not have the latest lists. IEC misguided itself when counting the PR seats. This exercise IEC chose to do alone without the involvement of political parties as is practiced”
“They got the calculations wrong and went on to lodge a case against themselves seeking a review of their own decision. This was the last straw that proved that the commission was indeed outright incompetent, did not have proper controls within the secretariat and quality control measures. This has led to the nation losing confidence in the ability of the IEC hence eroding its credibility”