IEC redraws constituencies

MASERU — Two new constituencies have been formed, one has been dissolved while a number have been renamed or moved to other districts.

These are the major changes that resulted from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s review of the country’s electoral constituencies.

The IEC presented the final review report to stakeholders on Thursday last week.

The new changes will only apply in the 2011 local government elections as well as the 2012 general election.

The review, which was supposed to have been done in 2008 but was put on hold due to delays in releasing the 2006 census results, has seen changes in 63 out of the 80 constituency boundaries.

It has resulted in the dissolution of the Matelile constituency in Mafeteng district and the creation of Thetsane constituency in Maseru.

Mabote constituency has been moved from the Maseru district to Berea district. The report says this was done because Mabote had been wrongly included among the Maseru constituencies.

The urban part of Berea constituency has been cut off to start a new constituency called Khubetsoana which the report says has 15 742 voters.

Other constituencies have been renamed while boundaries of others have been shifted dramatically.

Whole villages and in some places entire area chiefdoms have been moved from a constituency to another.

In the mountainous region and foothills of the Berea district, the Pulane constituency’s name has been changed to Ts’oana-Makhulo because the Pulane and Pulanyane mountains are no longer within the constituency.

The affected villages — over 10 of them, including two big ones namely Ha-Ramoroke and Ha-Mosiuoa — will now be part of the Malimong constituency.

In the same district, Nokong will now be known as Mapoteng because the Nokong village will no longer form part of the constituency.

Mapoteng is a village in the constituency.

The northern and eastern parts of the Seqonoka constituency are now part of Berea constituency because the boundary has been shifted to Seqonoka River.

Previously, Seqonoka River ran through the constituency.

Most of the southern part of the Seqonoka constituency will now also be part of the redesigned Berea constituency.

Mohobollo constituency in Leribe has been renamed Leribe because the Leribe Plateau, which is also part of the principal chieftaincy, is now within it.

The review report says 91 percent of complaints from the affected communities countrywide were around the issue of amending boundaries while two percent was on how the people felt about the delimitation process.

The remaining six percent of comments were complaints on administration of elections and suggestions on how to improve on the activities of the IEC.

“Out of 685 submissions, 626 were related to the boundaries,” reads the report in part.

However, the IEC considered objections from some communities mainly from the rural areas.

For example, the communities of five villages including representatives of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party in Qhalasi constituency in Mohale’s Hoek objected to the shifting of Mpharane and the IEC considered their plea.

In Sebapala in Quthing district, three LCD representatives proposed that six villages be part of the constituency and the IEC agreed.

However, the IEC rejected a proposal by the same representatives to append six more villages from Moyeni to Sebapala on the grounds that Moyeni’s voting population would not be enough to make up a constituency. 

In Mantsonyane in Thaba-Tseka the IEC agreed to a request by two villagers who said three villages of Ha-Letuka, Ha-Ntsokoane and Ha-Chooko should be shifted from Thaba-Moea constituency to Mantsonyane.

In all 127 objections which the IEC rejected the main reason was that it had to keep the required population quota in the constituencies.

Other complaints were from people who said that shifting their villages to other constituencies would leave them without access to basic services.

The report said the IEC told these villagers that the delimitation of boundaries had nothing to do with provision of services.

The IEC also considered that moving some villages would affect district boundaries.

It however says it has made the changes guided by the constitution which states that “all constituencies shall contain as nearly equal numbers of inhabitants of or above the age of 18 years”.

“A constituency shall not exceed or fall short of the population quota by more or less than 10 percent.”

The IEC says a constituency voting population should be between 12 977 and 15 861.

The commission said it had found that half of Maseru’s 18 constituencies were above the required voting population hence the decision to create the Thetsane constituency.

The bureau of statistics’ village list and maps were used to identify villages that could be shifted between constituencies in order to satisfy the requirements of the quota as stipulated in the constitution, says the IEC in the report.

The IEC is mandated by the constitution to review the constituencies’ boundaries after 10 years.

The last review was made in 1998 based on the 1996 census and the IEC was supposed to have reviewed the boundaries again in April 2008.

It delayed because of the late announcement of the 2006 census results and announcement of the 2007 snap elections that warranted the use of 1998 constituencies.

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