Parties reject civic groups

MASERU – Opposition parties have rejected a proposal to incorporate civil society groups into a special body to be formed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to improve its transparency.

The opposition made their position clear at a stormy meeting called by the IEC at a local hotel yesterday.

They insisted that they did not want the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN) incorporated into the new monitoring body.

The Political Leaders Committee on Monitoring of Electoral Processes will be charged with monitoring electoral processes for both local government and national elections.

The Basotho Batho Democratic Party (BBDP) leader (Jeremane Ramathebane) was among those who were hostile to the idea of incorporating civil society.

Ramathebane argued that if civil society were to be included, the whole idea of a monitoring committee would be distorted because “we don’t speak the same language”.

“This is politics and we are political players. Those people (civil society) are not politicians. Their inclusion will change the direction we want to take,” Ramathebane charged.

“I want nothing to do with the LCN or the inclusion of the civil society on political issues.”

All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane said there were areas where “we haven’t worked well with them”.

“We cannot include NGOs when we know very well that they are actually part of the rot,” Thabane said.

Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP) deputy leader Pelele Letsoela also chipped in saying he was not ready “to embrace the idea”.

However, Law and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa said it might be wise to include the LCN because “the idea is to work together”.

“On our part we felt the inclusion of the LCN would be a good thing because civil society is a major stakeholder,” Mahase-Moiloa said.

“Our firm opinion is that it is necessary to include them because we need
their contribution to achieve clean elections devoid of the usual clamour and conflict.”

Seventeen opposition parties, the LCD and the government then signed the agreement establishing the committee to monitor electoral processes.

Ramathebane declined to sign.

It was also resolved that the LCN should not be part of the new committee which will comprise six members, four of whom will be derived from opposition parties and one from the LCD.

The sixth member will be a senior government official holding the post of permanent secretary or higher.  

The committee will deal with the registration of voters, voters’ lists and management of the registration database.

It will also deal with the demarcation of electoral divisions, logistics and transportation of electoral materials and the recruitment of temporary staff during elections. 

The panel will also be charged with overseeing the process of electoral education, procurement of electoral material, post-election activities and the acquiring of financial and human resources.

According to a statement on the committee’s terms of reference, the committee will also develop an appropriate methodology and mode of working “suitable to achieve intended objectives”.

“The subcommittee on the monitoring of electoral processes will collect all the necessary information from the IEC, political parties and any other relevant structures,” reads the statement.

The monitoring process will be an exercise based on the electoral phases clearly indicated in the “2011 local government election plan”.

“The tenure of office of members of the committee will be determined by the political leaders,” the statement says.

The team will at its own discretion appoint both its chairman and secretary but will be answerable to the IEC and all involved stakeholders.

It will be expected to report to them fortnightly or “whenever need arises”.   

Present to sign on behalf the LCD was deputy leader Lesao Lehohla while Local Government Minister Ponts’o Sekatle signed on behalf of the government.

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