Fresh drama at IEC

Fresh drama at IEC

MASERU – Colonel Tanki Mothae, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs, has been entangled in the raging battles at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Colonel Mothae has come under a barrage of attacks from the former IEC commissioners who accuse him of masquerading as the commission’s chief accounting officer.

Retired Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla, Advocate ’Mamosebi Pholo and Dr Makase Nyaphisi were removed two months ago after their contracts expired.
They however insist that they are still the rightful commissioners because the government did not warn them that their contracts will not be renewed.

The trio have since sued the government, demanding that they remain in office. In the meantime, the government is busy in the process of recruiting other commissioners amid yet another legal fight.

Colonel Mothae came into the fray when he allegedly attended a meeting at the IEC offices last Friday where it is said he told sectional heads that he was taking over as the commission’s interim chief accounting officer.

The former commissioners quickly fired off a strongly-worded letter to Colonel Mothae, telling him to stop interfering with the commission.
Through their lawyers, Mofolo, Tau-Thabane & Company, the former commissioners accused Colonel Mothae of illegally taking over the commission’s operations.

They accused him of telling the managers they will “hold an election to choose their own acting director of elections on a date determined by the staff”.

“We are therefore instructed that it was agreed that the election be scheduled for Wednesday 7th August at 09:00,” the letter said.

“Mr Lebohang Bulane is the chief executive of the Commission and he has the further statutory functions, powers and responsibilities conferred on him by the Act and as may be assigned by the Commission.”

“Any attempt to usurp the statutory powers and functions reserved for a constitutional organ of state and its functionaries is unlawful, as is the notion that the staff of the Commission may hold an election to appoint their own Director of Elections.”

The letters says the attorneys have already been instructed to approach the courts for redress.

Colonel Mothae last night told thepost that he does “not take instructions from lawyers but from the Government Secretary, the Minister and the head of the government”.

“Sometimes I wonder if lawyers write these letters while drunk or sober,” Colonel Mothae said. He said it is common knowledge that the commissioners’ contracts expired “and currently there is no commission to talk about”.

“We are in the process of recruiting new commissioners, which you know that has been stopped by a court case pending in the High Court,” he said.
He said he has been appointed to oversee the IEC affairs until the commission is fully functioning.

Colonel Mothae sent thepost a savingram from the government secretary Moahloli Mphaka appointing him as the caretaker of the IEC on July 31.

The savingram says following the suspension of the director of elections in February, and absence of the Commissioners after their expiry of contracts on May 31 Colonel Mothae was subsequently appointed as the interim chief accounting officer by Finance Minister in a letter dated April 1.

Mphaka in the savingram says Colonel Mothae was appointed “to allow a smooth running of the Electoral Commission”.

“You are hereby appointed and assigned as a Caretaker of IEC responsible for the portfolio which would ordinarily be handled by the Director of Elections,” the savingram reads.

“You are therefore given the authority vested in that office to duly carry out the responsibilities of that office until such a time when the situation at IEC will be normalised,” it reads.

Colonel Mothae said it is vital that the government funds that parliament allocates to the IEC be followed up hence the decision to appoint him to the position.

He also denied that he went to the meeting so that he could instigate the election of the new director of elections as insinuated by the lawyers’ letter.

“No, I went there to introduce the deputy auditor general and the staff of that office after the same Bulane denied them access to the IEC,” he said.

“I went there to tell the staff that I am the caretaker and have authority to ensure that the auditor general receives the required cooperation from them and I appealed to them to be cooperative.”

He said yesterday’s meeting had nothing to do with the alleged election of the director of elections but “I went there to make arrangements for working together with them as their new head until things are back to normal”.

Staff Reporter

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