Voter transfers raise eyebrows
By Letuka Chafotsa
MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has come under fire mainly from the opposition Democratic Congress (DC) for the alleged illegal transfers of voters in the Thaba-Moea constituency to give the ruling party mileage at next month’s by-election.
The DC is worried that the alleged transfers by the LCD are tantamount to tampering with the outcome of election results, a fact of which the main opposition strongly believes “will breed disharmony”.
Other political parties have also jumped onto the bandwagon, with the Basotho National Party (BNP) saying it had long noticed the irregularities “even before the DC could raise its concerns”.
The BNP is the third and junior partner in a coalition with the Mothetjoa Metsing-led LCD and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC).
DC deputy secretary-general Semano Sekatle told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that the DC had discovered that a large number of voters had been transferred from their original electoral divisions to regions that are “far from voting stations”.
“This will make it difficult for voters to reach registration centres for them to cast their votes on election day,” Sekatle said.
Sekatle further asserted that free and fair elections are the hallmark of a well functioning democracy so “disturbing voter registration jeopardises democracy”.
The oddest aspect about the transfers, Sekatle said, was that it was only visible in DC strongholds.
“Surprisingly, these mysterious voter transfers are only seen in areas where DC won elections in the past elections of May 26, 2012,” Sekatle said.
According to Sekatle, even more peculiar is that where the LCD won elections at the 2012 May poll there had been an alarming increase of voters.
For instance, Sekatle said the Popa vot ing centre where the LCD has registered the most votes has seen a sudden increase of 1 600 additional voters.
“Another startling incident is at Lihlephehlepheng area where there were seven households and on May 2012 polls, there were only 26 voters but now there are eighty,” Sekatle said.
“It is really astounding to see such an increase.”
Sekatle said DC had already reported these irregularities to Independent Electoral committee (IEC).
BNP spokesperson Tšepo Monethi confirmed that the BNP had long discovered those irregularities at Thaba-Moea constituency “even before DC could lodge a complaint”.
“We want to get to the bottom of this matter. We will dig further to establish exactly who illegally transferred voters without their knowledge,” Monethi said.
Monethi added that besides Thaba-Moea, similar mysterious and illegal voter migrations had also occurred in the Mt Moorosi constituency at the Ha ‘Mantsoepa electoral division.
Moipone Piet, the secretary general of Lesotho Peoples’ Congress (LPC) confirmed that political parties had received the complaint from DC.
“While we are justifiably proud of our democracy, there are a number of areas which need to be strengthened for us to realise the true potential of a well functioning democracy,” Piet said.
“IEC called us to discuss the issue, and the data committee has met to handle the problem”, said Piet.
Piet further said much as DC link the issue to LCD, the IEC was also answerable as it had acknowledged that there could be some illegal voter transfers.
Piet added the committee had appointed a sub-committee to investigate on the matter so as to “rectify this shocking problem before the by-elections”.
Thapelo Bohloko of Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) who is also a member of the data committee and its sub-committee said he was “perplexed to hear such tampering of voters’ registration migration”.
However, Bohloko said they had already started examining the problem to come up with a remedy to the matter.
Meanwhile the outgoing acting chairman of the IEC Fako Likoti confirmed that the data committee, which is made up most political parties’ general secretaries, “will be dealing with the alleged misconduct”.