DC, Mochoboroane institute legal challenge against constituency delimitation

DC, Mochoboroane institute legal challenge against constituency delimitation
DC, Mochoboroane institute legal challenge against constituency delimitation

Africa-Press – Lesotho. The Democratic Congress (DC) and the leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) have petitioned the Constitutional Court praying that it reverses the

delimitation of the constituency exercise that has been undertaken by the Independence Electoral Commission (IEC). DC and Mochoboroane are first and second applicants respectively while the respondents

are: IEC, the Minister of Law and Justice and the Attorney General being first to third respondents respectively, and 50 other political parties. Section 66 A of the

Constitution charges IEC with the responsibility: “to ensure that elections to the National Assembly and local authorities are held regularly and that every

election or referendum held is free and fair. “To organize, conduct and supervise, in an impartial and independent manner, elections to the National Assembly and referenda under the provisions of this Constitution and any other

law; to delimit the boundaries of constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and any other law; to supervise and control the

registration of electors; to compile a general register of electors and constituency registers of electors for the several constituencies and to maintain such

register or registers up to date. They want the court to nullify the recently published gazette of the Constituency Delimitation. “The decision that the first respondent, in terms of which it commissioned a review of

constituencies purporting to act in terms of the provisions of section 67 of the Constitution as contained in legal notice number 109 (National Assembly

Electoral Constituency Delimitation notice) dated 24 September 2021, is reviewed and set aside as invalid, irrational and unreasonable to the extent that it violates the provisions of section 67(3) of the Constitution,” reads

their court application. The petitioners also want the court to order IEC to hold elections using the old constituency boundaries list. Demarcation of the constituencies is a decennial

undertaking that happens following the census and it did not happen then as there were challenges with the then IEC Commissioners former Chief Justice Mahapela

Lehohla (then Chairperson), Advocate Mamosebi Pholo, and Dr Makase Nyapisi, who began this exercise in 2018 but did not finish as their contracts had expired

and then they instituted a protracted legal battle to secure the extension of their contracts. The current Commissioners, Mphasa Mokhochane (Chairperson), Dr Karabo Mokobocho-Mohlakoana, and Tšoeu

Petlane entered the office in December 2020 finding delimitation of constituencies as one of the outstanding tasks that they needed to undertake. They took the helm of the

arguably “troubled” institution following the expiration of the former Commissioners’ contracts in January 2019, who had then approached the courts seeking relief to have their contracts renewed.

During the legal battle which they lost following the ruling by the Court of Appeal, the Commission was without the stewardship, the move which halted some projects within the

commission to kick-off as they require the green light from the Commissioners. Earlier this year, DC Secretary-General Tšitso Cheba and MP for Qaqatu No. 60 now Phamong No. 63

petitioned the court to challenge the delimitation constituencies. Meanwhile, there has been a mixed bag reaction to the issue of the constituency delimitation, while

some hold the view that it is to the advantage of the parties whose urban constituencies are their stronghold, especially in Maseru, whereas some fare

exceptionally in the highlands based constituencies. These dynamics are likely to change given the prevailing political climate with now about 57 parties, the

number which is set to increase for the upcoming elections. This case could offset the date of elections slated for October this year if it is not heard on an urgent basis as per the petitioners’ prayer.

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