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DC youths attack cancellation of by-elections



MASERU – THE government’s decision to cancel by-elections on grounds that there are no funds is a threat to democracy, according to the Democratic Congress (DC) Youth League. The DC youth league told a press conference on Tuesday that it opposes the cancellation of by-elections because “any person, institution, idea or act that threatens democracy” is the enemy of the people. The country was supposed to hold by-elections in five constituencies this year. The government however cancelled parliamentary by-elections as well as some local government elections, saying there was no money. Instead, the government instructed the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to begin preparations for next year’s parliamentary elections, a decision that has infuriated the DC youth league. The Ministry of Finance’s Budget Controller, Maleshoane Lekomola-Danziger, told the IEC in a savingram earlier this month to stop the by-elections. The decision was communicated to the IEC’s Acting Director of Elections, Advocate Lehlohonolo Suping. Lekomola-Danziger’s savingram said the by-elections had not been budgeted for the 2021/22 financial year. The by-elections are supposed to be held in six constituencies of ’Makhoroana, ’Maliepetsane, Thupa-Kubu, Mohale’s Hoek, Kolo and Qacha’s Nek. The MPs for these constituencies died last year while the MP for Qacha’s Nek, Dr Pontšo Sekatle, was assigned to represent Lesotho in Belgium and the European Union in February 2021. Despite that their party is part of the government, the DC youths said it is going to write to the IEC and the party’s national executive committee demanding the holding of the by-elections. “We demand by-elections,” the youth league leader Moeketsi Shale said at the press conference. “We will not agree to our democracy being undermined,” Shale said. “If we bow down now when they say there is no money and we do not hold by-elections, what if they say so next year when we are supposed to hold general elections?” he said. “As the DC youth we firmly stand against the decision of the government to cancel the by-elections over claims that there is no funding,” he said. “There are parliamentary vacancies that need to be filled.” He also said the decision is a violation of democratic tenets as it deprives the people an opportunity to elect an MP of their choice. He said they will fight to ensure that elections take place this year. In her savingram, Lekomola-Danziger told the IEC to note that “the budget for by-elections was not included in the 2021/2022 budget estimates”. “Therefore, our recommendation is that the IEC should begin preparations for 2022 general elections,” Lekomola-Danziger said. Rosalia Tšemane

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