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EU election observers praise IEC



MASERU – THE European Union Election Observer Mission has commended the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for holding a “peaceful and well organised election” last Friday.

The mission released its preliminary findings on Tuesday, promising to release the final detailed report with recommendations within two months.

The mission said despite the persistent financial shortcomings and legal uncertainty, “the IEC was able to conduct most of its activities according to the electoral calendar”.

“The budget allocated for this election was insufficient and did not take into consideration the IEC’s financial needs in the context of a significantly increased number of contestants,” the mission said.

“In addition, the IEC received its funding late in the process, in weekly installments, which also impacted negatively on the election preparations and made the implementation of the planned essential activities such as voter education and the transportation of election materials very difficult.”

It said the IEC provided the public with information posted exclusively on its Facebook page, mostly related to voter education messages and announcements.

However, it said meetings were informal and meeting minutes were not made public.

Moreover, it said, the IEC lacks procedures and a mechanism to formally determine and declare its decisions.

“While the IEC has the legal power to make regulations and interpretation into rules of procedures on various aspects of the election process, in practice they are neither formalised nor published, reducing the clarity and transparency of the IEC’s work.”

The mission found that the performance of the election administrators at district and constituency level was professional.

The workers were committed to the work despite the difficult situation, it said.

Many people interviewed, the mission said, expressed general trust in local election administrations but also doubted the capacity of the IEC to deliver, particularly in rural areas.

It found that some constituencies struggled with the difficult environment and long distances, lack of electricity and access to the internet.

It also found that many returning officers had to work without basic office equipment and insufficient communication tools to liaise efficiently with stakeholders and IEC district offices.

The mission found that polling staff was recruited on time and the IEC demonstrated competence training staff.

However, due to financial constraints, many observed training sessions were conducted in overcrowded and inadequate locations with insufficient training materials.

Voter education, it said, was one of the areas that was most affected by the financial shortcomings, as it was reduced from three months to three weeks ahead of the elections.

Most of the interviewees, it said, considered the voter education for these elections to be insufficient especially for certain categories of voters such as youth and disabled people.

The mission found that trust in the voter register was affected by a lack of a comprehensive approach to improve its accuracy.

It said the accuracy of the voter register was questioned by many interviewees referring to possible names of dead people and reported errors in voters’ data.

To improve the quality of the voter register the IEC had initially planned to link it to the civil register.

This, the mission said, proved impossible to do prior to the elections due to the large volume of data to be processed.

In an effort to find an alternative solution to improve the accuracy of the voter register, the IEC decided to extend the period for public scrutiny and corrections from 12 August to 30 September.

“The IEC respected the legal obligation to publish the certified voter register and shared it with registered political parties no later than 30 days before the elections,” the mission observed.

The voter list contained 1 383 844 voters, which is 767 158 women and 616 868 men.

“Closer to election day, allegations of errors and inaccuracies in the voters’ list were expressed in the media. The IEC denied the allegations and threatened anyone spreading inaccurate information with civil action.”

The mission observed that there was a peaceful campaign with lack of transparency of campaign finance, no spending caps, and use of state resources.

It also raised concerns about the links between some political parties and famo music groups, “which have grown into organised gangs, and their participation in campaign events raised concerns about their influence on elected officials”.

“The EU EOM saw several instances of the use of government vehicles for campaigning, which is legal for ministers and “other officials” but contrary to international good practice.”

“The IEC is the sole oversight body for campaign and party finance. Its lack of financial and human resources coupled with the high number of registered parties made it extremely challenging to perform this function,” it said.

There is a legal requirement for political parties and independent candidates to declare to the IEC any donation exceeding M200 000 “but no declaration has been made since 2012”.

“Foreign funding for campaign purposes,” the mission said, “puts the country at risk of foreign influence, and is not in line with international good practice for democratic elections.”

Staff Reporter


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Doctor tampers with corpse



THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns



Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.


The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss



A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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