New Commissioners for the IEC

New Commissioners for the IEC

MASERU-The council of state has appointed the Independent Electoral Commissioners yesterday.
The new chairman is Mphasa Mokhochane, the former IEC director of elections.

The other two Commisioners are the former rector of the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) Dr Karabo Mokobocho and Tšoeu Petlane former director of the Transformation Resource Centre.
This comes after two civic society groups, the Transformation Resource Centre and the Education for Peace Education, lost a case in which they were challenging the recruitment procedure.

The names of those recommended will then be sent to King Letsie III for appointment. That appointment could be made as early as next week.
Those who have been shortlisted for appointment as commissioners are Dr Fako Likoti, a former political adviser to former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, Mphasa Mokhachane, the ex-deputy director of elections at the IEC, Dr Karabo Mokobocho, the Lesotho College of Education rector, Matšeliso Mapetla, a former lecturer at the National University of Lesotho and Tšoeu Petlane, a former director at the TRC.

Justice Minister Professor Nqosa Mahao told a press conference last Friday that the move is meant to bring operations at the IEC back to normal.
The IEC operations ground to a halt last year after the Justice Mahapela Lehohla-led commissioners’ tenure expired.

The government did not renew the commissioners’ tenure leading to a bruising battle in the courts which the commissioners’ lost.
The TRC and DPE also joined the fray arguing they should have been included in the selection of the new commissioners.

They argued that they had been denied the right to participate in the “public affairs” of Lesotho in the selection of candidates.
The High Court was asked to determine whether the Constitution recognises the right of civil society groups or private citizens to participate in the selection process of IEC commissioners.

The court found that the selection was “conducted by political parties duly registered with the IEC and representing different shades of public opinion and interests in Lesotho”.
It said section 66(4) “leaves no scope for direct participation by persons or bodies other than registered political parties” in the selection of candidates.
Professor Mahao said these court cases had brought the IEC’s operations to a halt.

“The commissioners’ absence is a real setback,” Professor Mahao said.
“Even though employees can try to work, their work will not be lawful unless they have been given blessings by the commissioners,” he said.
“The case is over and this week the Council of State will sit to recommend the commissioners to the King.”

He said the Constitution provides that after every 10 years or after every census the constituencies should be reviewed and partitioned.
“We have already violated the law,” he said.
He said the constituency demarcation should have been completed before June 2020.

“The IEC does not have a director (of elections) to guide its activities,” he said, adding that the position must be filled quickly.
He said the commissioners’ presence will enable the IEC operations to run smoothly.

Lesotho is due to hold the next elections to choose a new government in 2022.
Without commissioners, the IEC will be rendered dysfunctional, putting at risk preparations for the next elections.

Nkheli Liphoto

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