MASERU- Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) yesterday revealed that the electoral body had budgeted M248 million for the June 3 2017 general elections.
The said amount is not yet physically in the IEC accounts, but the Director of Elections Dr Letholetseng Ntsike and her deputy Mphasa Mokhochane sounded confident and optimistic that there was no way government could call for elections and not able fund them.
“Whether we are ready or not, we have to (hold the elections). We have to. We are here to administer elections,” she said indicating that what is important is for the funds to be availed. The officials also conceded that while there will be pressure for IEC to deliver, now that the Election Day was gazetted last Friday they have no option but to deliver.
Mokhochane also explained that the election period had started in earnest from yesterday to June 10 2017. He said the IEC had already met with the Law and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Mootsi Lehata, to present their budget. He said Lehata would, in turn, attend a cabinet meeting today to present the budget.
Mokhochane said when they met Lehata, the minister asked the elections director how much was needed right away to finance the already on-going administrative expenses. The director then told the minister that M150 million was needed.
Asked whether the allocated amount would also include local government elections that were postponed from 2016 the IEC officials indicated that a new budget announcement would be made for those elections.
“We won’t use local government (elections) budget,” Ntsike repeatedly stressed, indicating that local government elections are to be held in September 2017.
The IEC also announced that not all political parties would be funded this time around from the M248 million. The officials announced that those parties that did not account for their money in the 2015 general election will have to fund their campaigns in order to lure voters to elect them up to the Mpilo Mountain for a parliamentary seat. Nevertheless, IEC says it is still engaging some ‘unnamed’ parties to account for the public money from the last elections.
But there is bad news for those who are hoping to be hired as electoral officers. Now that the electoral period is on and running, IEC directors submitted that there is no time to run advertisements for temporary staff especially the returning officers.
The IEC directors also said because this was the first snap election born out of a successful ‘no-confidence motion in parliament’ the electoral body was now pressed with a period of three months to conduct the elections. In the past, the directors said, while there have been some snap elections after an unsuccessful vote-of-no-confidence, the IEC had five more than five months to prepare for them.
Ntsike said that the said workers will be head hunted from their constituencies in consultation with political party delegates. By so doing, IEC is of the opinion that due the short space, time would be saved for training and hiring.
Also, she said there will be no cleaning of the voters’ roll this time around. This, she said, was because the current voters’ roll was only effected in 2015 it was still valid as the Commonwealth Secretariat had assisted with the commissioning of consultants to clear the voters’ roll.
Ntsike also encouraged the participating political parties to bring their own experts to analyze the work of the consultants.
“To date the commission has registered 1, 236, 421 voters made up of 687, 968 females and 548, 453 males,” reads the statement from IEC.
“This number came after registering 43, 320 people in 2016 and this year 4, 135 people have been registered.”