INDEPENDENT Electoral Commission (IEC) logistics manager, Kotsi Mohau has allayed fears of vote-rigging, saying the commission was ready to conduct free and fair elections.
The national elections, which will be held on 3 June 2017, were announced by King Letsie III after the Phakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition government lost a vote of no confidence to the opposition bloc in parliament on 1 March.
Opposition All Basotho Convention and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leaders, Thomas Thabane and Keketso Rantšo respectively have publicly expressed fears of vote rigging and called on their supporters to be vigilant as a precaution.
However, Mr Mohau recently told the Lesotho Times that such fears were misplaced as the commission had worked hard to come up with measures to guard against vote rigging.
“As an election management body, we know that the vote rigging talk is not something new and it is our responsibility to ensure that votes are not rigged,” Mr Mohau said, adding, “As a result we have put in place measures against vote rigging and to ensure that we hold free and fair elections”.
He said that the measures included the immersion of an elector’s finger in an ink immediately after one had cast their votes. The ink could not be washed off for the entire day of the voting exercise.
He said in addition, the voter’s name would be removed from the list immediately after they had voted and that this would be done in full view of all party representatives and election officials.
The third measure was allowing the stationing of party representatives at every voting station to monitor the voting process.
“People must acknowledge the fact that after voting has been completed, the voting station manager, IEC officials and party representatives work together to count the votes and no results will be announced until they all agree with the results.
“Secondly, we have what we call ballot accounting. For instance, if at a certain poll station there are 10 registered voters, we will have 15 ballot papers in place to cater for circumstances like spoilt ballots.
“Before counting is done, IEC officials and party representatives must agree on ballot accounting confirming that there were 15 ballot papers, meaning no other ballot papers were sneaked in and therefore the voting can began,” Mr Mohau said.
Mr Mohau said after the voting was done and everyone had agreed with the results, IEC officials and party representatives would then sign for the election results before first announcing them at the poll station and thereafter ferrying the ballot boxes to the IEC headquarters.
Responding to Dr Thabane’s allegations that ballot papers intended for rigging were transported by army helicopters, Mr Mohau said the IEC only used the helicopters to transport ballot papers to the 219 hard to reach polling stations around the country.
“There are some places which are not easily accessible because of our country’s topography and we have no choice but to transport ballot papers by helicopters. This has got nothing to do with vote rigging.
“Of the 219 inaccessible areas, there are some places where we will use horses, donkeys and skateboards to transport ballot papers,” he said.
He said they working with the security organs whose members would be always present at every poll station to forestall the outbreak of violence.
“We are also preaching the sermon of peace to every Mosotho, that they should exercise tolerance throughout election period, on the day of elections and afterwards,” he said.