Parties fight over funds

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Parties fight over funds
Parties fight over funds

Africa-Press – Lesotho. TEMPERS flared at a meeting between the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and political parties’ treasurers over campaign funds.
The agenda of the Tuesday meeting was to discuss how political parties would share the M5 million allocated by the government for campaign funding.
The IEC also wanted to emphasise the importance of political parties accounting for the funds.
Emotions started running high after the IEC financial officer, ’Mabatho Sesoane, explained how the money would be shared among the parties.
Sesoane said M1 million would be shared equally among the parties contesting the election.
She however said those that did not get 500 or more votes in the 2017 election will not get anything.
The remaining M4 million will be shared proportionally based on the number of votes achieved in the previous election, she said.
“New parties and parties that did not partake in elections will be given money according to the threshold (500 votes),” Sesoane said.
Those that participated in the last election but did not achieve the threshold of 500 votes will not get anything.
Although this is how the campaign funds have always been distributed, some smaller parties felt that the formula gives an unfair advantage to big political parties that garnered more votes in the previous election.
The Basotho Economic Enrichment (BEE) leader, Mohatle Litaba, was among those who complained bitterly.
“How can the IEC say we should get into the ring and fight Goliaths yet we are Davids?” Litaba asked.
“Why did you allow us small parties to be side-lined yet we are expected to compete at the same level?” Lekhotla la Mekhoa le Meetlo (LMM) leader, Malefetsane Liau, said they have always asked why the funds were not shared equally.
“We have been asking why we are being divided since 2012 to 2022,” Liau said.
“The Goliaths are being made more powerful while the smallest are suppressed and given less help.”
Liau suggested an immediate meeting to address their grievances.
“The leadership meeting should happen now or else it will cause problems.”
He said other parties are always boasting of having a lot of money but still want a share of the public funds.
The IEC spokesman, Tuoe Hantši, said the issue of small parties being sidelined should be discussed among the parties instead of blaming the IEC.
“You should use your forums to discuss it. Ask for a meeting with the commissioners,” Hantši said.
Hantši added that although he appreciates the small parties’ concerns “the IEC cannot change anything but the political party leaders have that opportunity”.
The Bahlabani ba Tokoloho Movement (BTM) leader, Moeketsi Mlongeni, retorted that the issue should be discussed in the same meeting “because there are political leaders in this meeting”.
“This meeting is for the treasurers and the leaders,” Mlongeni said.
The Alliance of Democrats (AD)’s national treasurer, Mokoto Hloaele, insisted that only party leaders should discuss the allocation of funds.
“It would not be fair because other leaders are not present,” Hloaele said.
“The invitation says only those who deal with funds would be admitted at the venue.”
Sesoane, the IEC financial officer, said the funds from the commission are strictly for campaign purposes like printing materials and transport.
She said the money should not be used for salaries, rent or electricity.
“It should not be used to buy votes or be invested,” she said.
Parties, Sesoane said, are required to account for every cent within three months after the election.
The IEC’s director of legal affairs, Lehlohonolo Suping, said parties that fail to account “will face consequences”.

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