MASERU — The term of office for outspoken Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) commissioner Malefetsane Nkhahle has been renewed after a two-month stand-off, the Lesotho Times heard this week.
IEC chairperson Limakatso Mokhothu yesterday told a routine meeting of political leaders to prepare for next month’s local government polls that Nkhahle had signed a five-year contract.
“Commissioner Nkhahle’s contract has been renewed,” Mokhothu said.
“I will now give leaders who would like to comment on this new development an opportunity to do so.”
The renewal of Nkhahle’s contract comes two months after his term of office expired amid speculation that it was not going to be renewed.
Nkhahle sparked a storm in the IEC after he sensationally claimed that Lesotho’s voter register was in shambles.
He told the media in June that the voters’ register was in such bad state that there was need for a fresh voter registration.
The remarks did not go down well with his fellow commissioners with Mokhothu publicly berating Nkhahle for washing the commission’s dirty linen in public.
However a few weeks after Nkhahle made the stunning revelations his position appeared to have been vindicated after a South African election expert R W Johnson said the voters’ roll was indeed defective.
In a report entitled the State of the Voters’ Roll as at July 2011, Johnson said the roll was inflated by more than 100 000 ghost voters.
Yesterday’s meeting was attended by, among others, Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) deputy leader, Sello Maphalla, Kimetso Mathaba of the National Independent Party, Popular Front for Democracy’s Lekhetho Rakuoane.
Also in attendance were Basotho Batho Democratic Party’s Geremane Ramathebane and the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy’s secretary general Mothetjoa Metsing.
Rakuoane said he was relieved that Nkhahle’s term had been renewed.
“We were beginning to question what was happening. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. This vacuum shouldn’t have happened at all,” Rakuoane said.
Ramathebane also welcomed Nkhahle back to the panel and urged the commissioners to work together and “be tolerant towards one another”.
“You’re a commission that we’re comfortable working with because you do as we ask of you. But I was beginning to get scared with only two commissioners instead of three handling our business,” Ramathebane said.
“We’re sure that with the three of you in the panel, we can now relax and continue with business as usual because there won’t be anything to hide.”
An elated Nkhahle thanked particularly opposition leaders for “your support during this time of confusion”.
“What is left for me to do now that we’re headed for elections, is to support my colleagues and all stakeholders for the realisation of credible elections,” Nkhahle said.
The IEC commissioners are appointed by the king on the advice of the Council of State. The council is made up of the king, the Prime Minister, leader of the opposition and the chief justice.