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Fresh bid to stop election



 MASERU – THE Democratic Congress (DC) and the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) have filed an urgent High Court application to block next Friday’s election in three constituencies.
The parties say the elections in Matelile, Sempe, Mosalemane should be put on hold until their legal dispute with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has been resolved.
In cases filed separately last night, the parties are seeking to interdict the IEC from holding advanced voting scheduled for tomorrow and the main poll next Friday.
What has irked the two parties is that the IEC rejected their candidates’ nominations to stand for election on grounds that they are still public servants.
The MEC’s candidate for Matelile constituency, Sello Tšukulu, was rejected after two people from his constituency complained to the IEC that he was still the principal secretary in the Ministry of Development Planning.
The DC’s two candidates, Morero Lentša who was to stand in Sempe constituency, and Chepane Mothae from Mosalemane, were also rejected on similar grounds.
The IEC rejected Lentša’s nomination saying he was still a prison warder with the Lesotho Correctional Service when the DC filed his nomination papers.
It also rejected Mothae’s nomination saying he was still a marketing assistant at the Ministry of Home Affairs on a fixed-term contract.
Last week the High Court’s Justice ’Malebona Khabo refused to grant an order to compel the IEC to reverse its decision against the DC’s candidate.
The party and its candidates then took the matter to the Court of Appeal where it is still pending.
It is on the basis of that pending appeal that the DC wants the High Court to stop the election. It argues that the election should be stopped “pending final determination of the proceedings herein and the appeal in” the Court of Appeal.
The DC is asking the court to interdict and restrain the IEC from holding elections scheduled for the Sempe and Mosalemane constituencies.
The party also says the court should declare any election in those constituencies null and void.
The three candidates complain that the IEC has already printed ballot papers without their names and it has not offered their parties any chance to replace them.
This, they say, means the MEC and the DC will not be represented in the constituencies.
The DC candidates told the court that even if the Court of Appeal hears their case the ballot papers will still not have their names because the IEC has proceeded with elections without their names and their party represented.
Lentša, in his founding affidavit, says he reported to his leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, as soon as the IEC told him that it would continue with the elections without him.
Mokhothu, he said, immediately called the IEC chairman, Mphasa Mokhochane.
“The Chairman informed him that indeed the decision has been made to continue with the elections notwithstanding the pending appeals and that both the DC and myself will not contest in the said constituency,” Lentša said.
“The decision of the IEC is final at the moment that I will not contest and that the DC will not be represented,” he said.
“I aver that we have tried all available remedies, short of launching the current proceedings to resolve the matter, but there are no options left,” he said, adding that Mokhochane “made it clear that only a court order can interdict them from proceeding as they intend”.
He said Mokhothu suggested that an alternative candidate could be provided to contest but the IEC refused.
Mokhothu further suggested that the elections and the ballot paper could be modified so that the elections that take place in the constituency only relate to the Proportional Representation seats but the IEC did not agree.
The MEC argues that it is not correct to say Tšukulu was still the principal secretary when he was nominated to stand in Matelile constituency.
“The legal advice which we got about his resignation was that he had severed bonds with the government,” the MEC said in court papers.
“He had effectively exercised the constitutional right of any employee to tender his resignation at any time and leave the employer with the remedy of damages as the case may be for not giving enough notice for termination of service.”
“We took the legal opinion to be sound in law having regard to Section 9(2) of the constitution which proscribes forced labour.”
The IEC has no constitutional power to disqualify a candidate without a court order, the MEC argues.
The cases are before Justice Tšeliso Mokoko, who instructed that the IEC should be before him today to answer.
Staff Reporter

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