ABC, DC fight over elections

ABC, DC fight over elections

MASERU – TENSIONS are simmering between the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC) over the redrawing of electoral boundaries ahead of next year’s election.
The DC is accusing the ABC of trying to use the delimitation exercise to redraw boundaries to its advantage. Delimitation involves reconfiguring electoral boundaries based on recent census results.

It is meant to ensure that constituencies have almost the same number of voters. The logic is that a certain number of people should have an MP.
The trouble though is that the process is often mired in controversy, with politicians seeking to redraw the boundaries to their advantage. This is known as gerrymandering, a process of manipulating the boundaries (an electoral constituency) to favour one party or class.
For example, a party that enjoys rural support might want to keep urban areas out of its stronghold. The same can apply to a party that dominates urban areas.

The DC is apprehensive that the delimitation exercise will favour the ABC.
The party made that clear during a recent meeting at which the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announced its delimitation plans.
During the meeting, DC deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, accused the ABC of pushing the IEC to manipulate the electoral constituencies in its favour.

Letsosa said the DC would not allow the delimitation of constituencies until July 25, 2030. It was supported by its allies, which included the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) and the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) which are all in government.
The ABC which was represented by its spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa however insisted that the delimitation exercise should go ahead.
Masoetsa later told thepost that the DC is worried that the delimitation exercise would affect its base in the mountainous and rural areas of the country.

“They think the mountainous constituencies belong to them, therefore, the redrawing would cheat them,” Masoetsa said.
Masoetsa said the constituency delimitation is mandatory under the constitution and “therefore it should be done without fail”.
“After every census, the IEC is given the mandate to review the numbers and redraw where need be,” he said.
Masoetsa gave the example of the Mafeteng district whose six constituencies will be trimmed to five because the delimitation is likely to merge Thabana-Morena and Likhoele.

“They think they stand a chance to win such constituencies but we know that Thabana-Morena was won by the MEC while Likhoele was taken by the ABC,” he said.
In the last election, the MEC leader Selibe Mochoboroane won the Thabana-Morena constituency with 63.3 percent while the coalition of the DC and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) got 16 percent and the ABC 8.3 percent.

The ABC won the Likhoele constituency with a small margin of 34.6 percent against the DC and LCD’s combination of 32.3 percent and the MEC’s 20 percent.
The DC believes merging the two constituencies is meant to firm up the ABC’s shaky support in those constituencies.
Masoetsa said constituencies in Mohale’s Hoek will be reduced from eight to seven because Qhalasi and Mpharane will be merged.
“They (DC) won those two and they think they own the place,” he said.
In Qhalasi, the DC’s Palo Leteetee got 47.1 percent of the votes while the ABC’s Dr Pinkie Manamolela got 38.1 percent and in Mpharane the DC’s Phutuhelo Mafereka won by 41.9 percent while the ABC’s Ntebele Raliete got 34.9 percent of the votes.

Masoetsa said in the Quthing district the plan is to merge Sebapala and Mount Moorosi constituencies.
All the district’s five constituencies were won by the DC.
In Sebapala constituency the DC got 42.7 percent of the votes while the ABC got a measly 3.8 percent and in Mount Moorosi the DC won with the margin of 49.7 percent and the ABC got 2.1 percent.
Masoetsa said it is because of this that the DC thinks that “everywhere they have large followers the redrawing will happen”.

After the merger of two constituencies of Sebapala and Mount Moorosi the Quthing district will be left with only three constituencies.
Maseru, the ABC’s stronghold which has 18 constituencies will have four new ones after the redraw, Masoetsa said.
The ABC won all the 18 constituencies with not less than 40 percent in the lowlands and over 30 percent in the mountainous regions.
This, Masoetsa said, has angered the DC which is accusing them of pushing to manipulate the boundaries so that ABC strongholds have more constituencies.

Masoetsa said the ABC is “expecting the IEC to do its job without fail as the constitution stipulates”.
“We will end up resorting to launching court cases against the IEC if they seem not to be doing what they are supposed to do,” Masoetsa said.
The DC’s Letsosa said section 67 (3) of the constitution says the IEC can redraw the constituencies after the national census and it should be done eight years after the last one.
“It is clear that the commission cannot redraw before eight years pass,” Letsosa said.

“The constitution also says the commission is not allowed to take more than 10 years without the redraw,” he said.
Letsosa said according to them the 10 years ended on July 25 last year and “at the time we told the IEC to apply this law”.
They did not do it and now they must leave the redraw until the next census, he said.
“They must wait until eight or ten years later.”
Letsosa said whoever is saying the DC is afraid to lose some constituencies “is not telling the truth but nonsense”.

Nkheli Liphoto

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