Africa-Press – Lesotho. The much anticipated swearing in of the Commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had finally materialised at the ceremony which was officiated by the Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane at the High Court yesterday.
The incoming Commissioners are Mphasa Mokhochane – who is also the Chairperson, Dr. Karabo Mokobocho and Tšoeu Petlane. The trio replace the former Commissioners Former Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla who was chairing the
Commission assisted by Dr. Makase Nyaphisi and Advocate ‘Mamosebi Pholo. The trio assume the roles following almost two years of vacancy in the positions of the Commissioners.
They took the helm of the arguably “troubled” institution following the recent developments that had bedevilled the Commission. Following the expiry of the former aforementioned
contracts on January 2019, they had 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 Commissioners. One such exercise is that
of the demarcation of the constituencies, a decennial undertaking that happens following the census and the most recent being that of 2018. Also, during the
legal battles of the former Commissioners the contract of the then Director of Elections Dr. Letholetseng Ntsike ended, neither was it renewed nor the
successor engaged as such processes are done by the Commissioners. Addressing the media at the side-lines, the Chairperson said despite having been appointed on December
1, they could not assume the offices as they had not been sworn in. Meanwhile,
Mokhochane is not new to the Commission as he had previously served as the Director of Elections. He said they are coming with a lot of ideas to the Commission but hastened to show that such ideas may
“not” work adding that theirs is to ensure that there are free and fair elections of which every Mosotho will “accept and be happy of”. “Now the
question is, how do you make elections to be free and fair? Those are the work of the departments within the IEC who will assist us how to achieve our
mandate. ” Asked how they are going to address the challenges that had rocked the Commission, he said: “as a parent I take that when you have 10 children in the home and you leave them at home
for a month, I can imagine what will happen; each and every one will strive to get food, each and every one will strive to be recognised. So now the commission has arrived as a head of the family.
The first thing that we need to do as the Commission is to ensure that there is the Director of Elections who is the primary person to control and mobilise all the funds even the personnel
at IEC. ” Reflecting on the “tarnished” name of the IEC following the recent developments, the notable one being a scuffle between the Commission personnel and the clip which was
leaked on social media where there were voices of people who were at the brink of exchanging blows. “The good name of the IEC has been tarnished to any Mosotho, the good thing is to bring that good name of
IEC,” the Chairperson said and made resolve to take back the Commission to its former glory, adding that having served the institution for 20 years, then the
IEC was esteemed. Asked when they will embark on the demarcation of the constituency following the nearer date of the upcoming 2022 general elections, he said the Commission is yet to advise itself
if it will carry it post or before elections, adding that they would better get one thing correct than getting five things all wrong. The Section 66A 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 an 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.
To promote knowledge of sound democratic electoral processes; g. to register political parties; h. to ascertain, publish and declare the results of elections an referenda; to
adjudicate complaints of alleged irregularities in any aspect of the electoral or referendum process at any stage other than in an election petition; and to perform
such other functions as may be prescribed by or under any law enacted by Parliament. ” The Commissioners signed a five year contract that will end on November 30 2025.