MASERU — Local political analyst Nchafatso Sello and former English Language teacher Maieane Khaketla have topped a list of candidates vying for the chairmanship of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
The two jointly scored 73 percent in an assessment test conducted by a consulting firm, Quadrant Consulting. The consultancy firm was appointed by a panel representing political parties registered with the IEC and was tasked with evaluating applicants eyeing vacant positions in the commission which runs all political elections in the country. Quadrant Consulting used various tests like “baseline tests”, “psychometric tests”, “conflict management tests”, among others to assess the pedigree of all the candidates vying for seats in the IEC.
Makase Nyaphisi, the former Lesotho High Commissioner to Russia, who scored 66 percent and Peete Lerotholi, a civic society activist who garnered 68 points, are also shown on the scorecard as strong contenders for the IEC chairmanship.
Berea resident magistrate Tšeliso Bale, who scored 76 percent, should in fact have topped the list. However, he cannot be considered for the chairmanship position because he is considered too young for the job. He is nevertheless eligible for a sit as an ordinary commissioner of the IEC.
Other candidates who were tested include the acting chairman of the current interim IEC Fako Likoti, who was ranked ninth of the 27 candidates competing for the positions in the IEC. Former National Assembly Clerk, Lebohang Ramohlanka, also ranked ninth with Likoti.
The scorecard described Ramohlanka who scored 60 percent as having “confidence issues” which were not clarified.
Former Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla, was ranked 11th after scoring 59 percent and is described in the scored cardas “having limited focus”.
Lehohla was advised to resign from the judiciary by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in March amid persistent feuds over seniority with Court of Appeal President Michael Ramodibedi.
Lehohla is viewed by some opposition leaders as Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s favourite candidate to chair the IEC.
Opposition Democratic Congress deputy leader, Monyane Moleleki this week accused Thabane of meddling with the process of appointing the permanent IEC chairman.
This after Lehohla performed badly compared to other applicants for the contest of the IEC chairmanship and Thabane then allegedly ordered a re-run of the selection process.
Moleleki claimed that a panel of political party leaders had already made progress towards the commission’s appointment last week when Thabane ordered a re-run of the vetting process.
Moleleki said the IEC was not appointed by the government in terms of the constitution and accused Thabane of over-stepping due bounds.
According to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Lesotho, political party leaders of registered parties under the Electoral Act sitting as a forum “agree and submit five names to the Council of State that would advise the King on the appointment of the two commissioners and a chairman”.
Moleleki claimed that political party leaders had appointed a panel in which Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) was represented by Secretary-General Futho Hoohlo.
He said the party leaders were obliged to use a score card developed and designed by political party leaders over the years to appoint IEC commissioners. He said they had used the score-card to shortlist candidates who were then forwarded to Quadrant for further testing.
Thabane’s spokesman, Thabo Thakalekoala, said his boss had the right to participate in the selection process in his capacity as a party leader and not as Prime Minister.
“I will have to teach Ntate Moleleki a bit of politics here. Ntate Tom has a right to participate in the IEC selection process as the leader of the ABC just like any other party leader. He is not participating as PM. Why does Moleleki want to deny Ntate Thabane this inalienable right.”
Thakalekoala insisted that Thabane, would always attend to IEC matters, wearing the ABC cap and “not the premier’s”.
“Ntate Thabane, like any other political leader, has a right to raise his opinions so Ntate Moleleki should stop confusing things as Ntate Thabane wants things to be organised professionally,” Thakalekoala said.
Thakalekoala said Thabane wanted to see elections administered properly in Lesotho and “wishes to see the electoral commission overhauled”.
“In an effort to see an end to post-election conflicts, the PM wants to see the IEC function professionally,” Thakalekoala said.
“DC knows they used to manipulate the IEC hence their insistence on the use of old score cards.”
Molahlehi Letlotlo of the Lesotho People’s Congress, who chaired the political party leaders’ panel, defended Thabane saying the Prime Minister has been speaking as a party leader and had raised a genuine objection.
“We had agreed to conduct our business of recommending the five candidates professionally (to the council of state). I took Ntate Thabane’s objection to be valid as it reminded us of our commitment to professionalism.
“He only asked us to abandon the use of the old score cards and to just submit the whole bunch of applicants to be vetted by experts,” Letlotlo added.
Letlotlo said he believed that Thabane had been exercising his role as a political leader well and had not overstepped any boundaries.