IEC bemoans ‘constant’ elections in Lesotho

IEC bemoans ‘constant’ elections in Lesotho

MASERU – THE Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is hamstrung in coming up with new strategies because of constant elections it has to organize.
For example, the country held general elections three times in five years from 2012 to 2017.
This was said by the Director of Elections, Dr Letholetseng Ntsike, while sharing their 2019/2023 strategic plan in their meeting with the media.
Ntsike said each electoral management body has to undergo three phases which include the pre-election period, electoral period and the post-electoral period.

She said however, Lesotho is stumbling on the electoral period hence it failed to comply with the electoral cycle.
“The standpoint on electoral period disables us to plan and progress,” Ntsike said.
“Whenever we move from one period, elections take place,” she said.

She said strategies help the electoral bodies to accomplish their vision, mission, and allocate resources accordingly.
Also, strategies help in setting of goals for the period of five years, in research, allocation of resources.
“It will serve as a control mechanism and performance management,” she said.

She also said the strategic plan helps with development of skills, particularly leadership skills and strategic thinking will enhance when strategies are followed.
Ntsike said Zimbabwe and Nigeria are doing well because they follow their strategic plan.
The IEC is also yet to meet up with other stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations, parliament cluster committees, government representatives and others.
“Our hope is that engaging all stakeholders and sharing ideas will eventually help IEC Lesotho not to be stagnant on the electoral period,” she said.

The District Electoral Officer ’Mapheello Nkopane said they had established that the IEC has three advisers, namely, the chief technical advisor who advises the chairman on effective and efficient implementation of operations, a special advisor to the chairman whose job is to advise or support the chairman on overall conduct of elections and chief press secretary whose job is to advise the chairman on media issues.

The ZEC does not have permanent structure at grassroots level during elections.
The civil servants are seconded during elections.
“Permanent staff of ZEC is deployed for at least one month to the field to have hands on experience on elections while the constitution and electoral act of INEC provides for a recall system whereby constituents may express their dissatisfaction about MPs to parliament and if allegations are found to be true by INEC, a concerned member of parliament may be recalled and a vacancy is declared,” Nkopane said.

Therefore, as IEC they learnt that without involvement of internal and external stakeholders from the initial stage, strategic plan can be in vain.
Buy-in of staff is very essential, she said, adding that it promotes ownership, team work and effective implementation.
The IEC has recommended engaging a consultant who will lead and facilitate the strategic planning process and develop the performance management tracking tools and quarterly reviews to see if the work is done according to the plan.

Civic and Voter Education Manager Lydia Macheli said they are establishing a monitoring team to oversee implementation of the strategic plan and once the implementation has begun, the directorate should devise mechanisms that will ensure that all departmental activities are in line with the strategic plan.
The IEC will develop clear policies which will guide the organisational operations and organize and hold periodic reviews of the strategic plan in order to track implementation process.
It will also engage external key stakeholders from initial process of developing a strategic plan.

“We will use result based management for monitoring of the strategic plan and the incentives for staff (election observers) should be based on good performance in order to serve as motivation as well as to reduce biasness,” Macheli said.

As a way forward, IEC intends to engage a facilitator who will sensitize about the strategic planning exercise through various consultative committees and establish the strategic plan focal persons within the institution. Macheli said they will conduct gap analysis for IEC management and establish partnership with the INEC Electoral Institute.

Tokase Mphutlane

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