Govt yet to secure funds for election

 

Billy Ntaote

THE Minister of Human Rights, Law and Constitutional Affairs, Haae Phoofolo, yesterday told Senate government is yet to secure funding for next year’s general election.

An estimated M300 million is needed for the poll scheduled for the end of February 2015.

The election had to be brought forward by two years after the coalition government’s failure to continue working together until the end of its five-year term in 2017.

Advocate Phoofolo, who had been asked by the Senators if preparations were on track for the snap election, said funding remained one of the major challenges facing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

The Senators also wanted to know if all the political party leaders are going to honour the Maseru Facilitation Declaration (MFD) they signed on 2 October 2014, under which parliament was to reopen on 17 October and dissolved two months later with elections held in February 2015.

In addition, the Senators also sought clarity on the dispute which led to the split between the ruling parties, namely the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP).

Mokhotlong Principal Chief, Mathealira Seeiso, asked the Minister: “What is the timeline towards the elections? What guarantee is there that party leaders are going to respect this Declaration?”

In response, Advocate Phoofolo said the MFD appeared well on track, save for the uncertainty over funding for the poll.

“What I have heard is that Parliament’s Business Committee and the IEC are working together on all the issues that need to be addressed regarding the poll.

“However, I can’t give an estimate of what would have been completed by such and such a date. I would need to go back and consult on some of these issues you are asking in order to furnish you with accurate information,” Advocate Phoofolo said.

Another question came from Senator Futho Hoohlo, who expressed concern that parliament appeared to be undermining the Declaration by deviating from its roadmap, which dictated that only election-related business would be discussed from the legislature’s reopening until its dissolution early December.

Senator Hoohlo said he had noted that some Members of Parliament (MPs) had wanted to amend the constitution to limit the prime minister’s powers, in violation of the Southern African Development Community-brokered MFD.

“Your concerns have already been addressed by the political party leaders and the spirit of the MFD is going to be followed in line with the constitution of Lesotho.

“However, the MFD’s implementation process could be weakened or derailed by lack of funds for the election. However, it is not like the Ministry of Finance is not handling the issue; the Ministry is actually working tirelessly together with various stakeholders to ensure there is funding for the elections,” Advocate Phoofolo said.

Contacted yesterday on the availability of funds for the elections, Minister of Finance, Leketekete Ketso, said his department had not been presented with any request for funding or budget for the election by anyone, including the IEC.

“As far as I’m concerned, nobody has tabled a budget for the elections before the Ministry of Finance, so we don’t know how much is needed for the poll,” Dr  Ketso said.

“I have heard that the IEC is already informing the electorate about the election, although we have not been given their budget as yet.”

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