MASERU — Opposition parties have accused the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of tinkering with the new electoral boundaries in its delimitation exercise in favour of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
The parties say the constituencies were redrawn to ensure the LCD remains in power after the 2012 general election.
A consultant hired by the IEC for the delimitation exercise never consulted them before and after the process, the opposition parties allege.
This, they say, resulted in a report that shows that the 80 constituency boundaries had been manipulated to help the ruling party win the 2012 polls.
The delimitation exercise was funded by the United Nations Development Programme.
The report released last Thursday shows that some villages have been moved to other constituencies after boundaries were redrawn.
Constituencies have also been moved to other districts while others have been renamed or dissolved altogether.
All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane told the Lesotho Times yesterday that the IEC had distorted the constituencies.
The result, Thabane said, were constituencies that look like they had been deliberately manipulated in favour of the LCD.
The ABC is Lesotho’s biggest opposition party in terms of parliamentary seats.
Thabane said the constituencies were not re-demarcated according the social cohesion of people living in them.
“The delimitation was supposed to have been done with consideration of the common interests of people living in those constituencies,” he said.
“But the IEC could not do that because it just employed its consultant who did not even bother to get our opinions,” he said, adding that “their consultant goes around carrying laptops as if computers make constituencies”.
“Because the consultant based himself on numbers and his computers’ abilities instead of talking to the people he has messed up the constituencies.”
Thabane accused the IEC of “directly working” for the LCD to advance its interests.
“I do not accept the IEC’s report because we were never consulted,” he said. “One can now see that we are planning an election that is meant to be won by the LCD.”
The Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) deputy leader, Sello Maphalla, said although the delimitation is a constitutional requirement he suspected foul play by the IEC.
He said the IEC “deliberately split the Ha-’Malesaoana village in Hlotse with the sole purpose of separating the community that has the same interests between the two constituencies of Hlotse and Mohobollo”.
“Any candidate supported by the Ha-’Malesaoana community is sure to win elections in Hlotse,” Maphalla said.
“This split is unfair to the villagers.”
The Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) leader, Moeketse Malebo, said the delimitation is a good thing if done in good faith but “I can trust nobody in this system”.
“It’s quite clear you can trust nobody in this country,” Malebo said.
The IEC spokesperson, Tuoe Hantsi, said it was unfair for the politicians to attack the report when they were consulted during the process.
“They have always been invited to participate at every step taken before and during review process,” Hantsi said.
“No, they are being unfair.”
He said representatives of political parties were called to a workshop last September to discuss the delimitation exercise. The report says so as well.
But Thabane has labelled this “a lie” saying at no time did the IEC invite political parties to discuss the issue.
The report says 42 representatives of political parties, two from each party, were invited to a stakeholders’ workshop in September last year.
The delimitation has resulted in the dissolution of the Thaba-Ts’oeu constituency in Mafeteng district.
Also a new constituency, Thetsane, has been formed in Maseru.
The IEC has removed the Mabote constituency from the Maseru district and shifted to the Berea district after it was realised that it had always been wrongly counted among the Maseru constituencies. (See story on page 2 for more constituency boundary changes)