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Storm brews over voters’ roll



MASERU – A storm appears to be brewing over tomorrow’s election amid allegations that the voters’ roll is riddled with fatal mistakes that might compromise the results and trigger post-election disputes.

Although the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has been in defensive mode, insisting that the roll is fine, alarm bells from political parties are ringing louder.

This is despite that the IEC has repeatedly missed its self-imposed schedule to meet certain statutory milestones before the election.

The final roll has been delayed. So has the list of proportional representation candidates.

The commission has been inundated with complaints from individuals and political parties that say the roll is a shambolic mess.

The Basotho Action Party (BAP) yesterday told the IEC, through a letter, that it was concerned that the final voters’ roll had not been released.

The BAP said names of dead people have not been removed from the previous roll that the commission released.

It said transfers and updated voters’ details had not been effected.

The party also said there were “mysterious electors not known to the chiefs and villagers ranging between 50 and 70 per election centre/voting stations in some constituencies”.

The BAP said it wanted clarity on the voters’ roll because it was getting “allegations that people are being imported from neighbouring South Africa to vote in our elections”.

BAP leader Nqosa Mahao said the party will have a special meeting to discuss its next step today.

Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy leader, Tšeliso Mokhosi, said the party is also worried that the final voters’ roll has not been released.

“The transfers do not even appear in that roll of theirs yet people took transfers, what is going to happen?” Mokhosi said.

He said the government should also be blamed for the irregularities in the roll because it delayed releasing funds to the IEC.

“The other thing that led to the IEC’s failure is their forced constituency redraw that needed enough time and resources,” Mokhosi said.

Boiketlo Hanyane, the Basotho National Party BNP deputy leader, said he didn’t even bother to collect the preliminary voters’ roll because it was replete with mistakes.

“I hope this final list will come out clean as we all expect,” Hanyane said.

HOPE’s ‘Machabana Lemphane-Letsie accused the IEC of ignoring their concerns about the roll.

“We asked for a voters’ roll several times but to no avail, until today our party is still waiting,” Lemphane-Letsie said.

“Elections are all about the voters’ roll especially after we signed a pledge to accept the results. It’s as if the IEC doesn’t know that the acceptance of the results starts with the acceptance of the voters’ roll.”

Last week a political campaign company with links to the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) released a report revealing that five percent of the 20 percent sample of the voters’ roll it had analysed had serious irregularities.

Shikamo Political Advisory and Campaign Services’s findings imply that 25 percent of the registered voters had been duplicated, miss dates of birth or have wrong registration numbers.

It is a staggering number when compared to the 587 000 people who cast their votes in the 2017 election. The IEC has however downplayed those findings.

“Those allegations are not correct as the voters’ roll is classified with districts, constituencies and then villages and can be downloaded,” said the commission in a statement last week.

Staff Reporter

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