Party leaders take IEC to task over election campaign funds

MASERU — Political party leaders yesterday questioned the criteria the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)  used to share the M2.7 million earmarked for parties eligible to contest the 2012 general election.

The IEC commissioner Faku Likoti told the leaders that the proposed allocation under the Party Campaign Funding was based on votes the parties had in the last election in 2007.

Likoti said the party that garnered the highest votes in 2007 would be given the biggest cheque.

The leaders were however concerned that some of the parties that were said to have got high votes participated in the 2007 election as alliances and therefore do not qualify to be allocated funds stipulated in a document provided by the IEC.

The document mentions the Alliance of Congress Parties (ACP), a merger of the Lesotho People’s Congress, Basutoland African Congress and a faction of the Basotho Congress Party.

The ACP got 20 263 votes and qualifies for M70 602 for use during this year’s election campaign.

The leaders’ query was that the ACP had not registered with the IEC for this year’s election.

They also noted that some of the parties that did not participate in the 2007 election were also eligible for funding this year.

The Alliance of Democratic Corporations (ADC), which was only formed and registered with the IEC last year, and the almost unknown SSD are entitled to be allocated M1 742 each.

The two parties are said to have collected 500 votes each in 2007, according to the IEC document.

The leaders also questioned allocations to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and its ally, the National Independent Party (NIP).

The two entered the 2007 election as one entity, with one contesting under the proportional representation system while the other stood in the constituencies.

The LCD, according to the IEC’s determination of political party funding, is entitled to M793 759 for winning 227 811 votes while the NIP is eligible for M800 000 for garnering 229 602 votes.

The same argument was raised against the Lesotho Workers Party and its ally, the All Basotho Convention.

The LWP has been allocated M374 432 for garnering 107 463 votes while the ABC was given M442 142 for winning 126 896 votes.

“We do not understand the whole determination of party funding and we need the IEC to explain,” the Basotho Democratic National Party representative, Pelele Letsoela said.

The LPC deputy leader, Molahlehi Letlotlo, said he would explain “in detail what the ACP is and why it is not contesting this year’s election.”

Letlotlo said the ACP has not registered with the IEC and the LPC registered on its own.

ABC leader, Thomas Thabane, said the IEC and party leaders should sit down and discuss why the allocation, “which is good and desirous” should be redrawn.

The most vocal about the issue was the Basotho National Party leader, Thesele ’Maseribane, who said the allocation to the ABC, LWP, LCD and NIP would “conjure up memories of the 2007 post-election upheavals”.

“We all remember the conclusions drawn by Sir Ketumile Masire of Botswana about alliances between these four parties,” ’Maseribane said.

Masire, who was a Sadc convoy appointed to help solve the political stalemate following the 2007 election, said the alliances undermined the spirit of the proportional representation system.

Sadc sent Masire to Lesotho after opposition parties complained that the IEC had wrongly given some of their proportional representation seats to the NIP, which had formed an alliance with the ruling LCD.

The IEC and the leaders agreed to discuss the matter on Monday.

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