By Thoboloko Ntšonyane
MASERU – The four new members of parliament (MPs) have been sworn in on Monday this week following the court’s ruling that favours the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) application to recalculate and reallocate the proportional representation (PR) seats.
The quartet are Masetota Leshota of Basotho National Party (BNP), Tefo Mapesela the leader of Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP), Rev. Paul Masiu the leader of Baena but has entered through the alliance of Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Majalefa and Baena and Mohlominyane Tota of the United for Change (UFC).
They replaced Morapeli Motoboli, ‘Maletsema Letšoepa, Katleho Mosotho all from the Democratic Congress (DC) and Lebohang Mochaba from Alliance of Democrats (AD).
These developments are operationalized through the legal notice No.28 of Election Results (Amendment) 2023 wherein the IEC’s Chairperson had published correct names of the people to be MPs.
Speaking on national television recently, the Clerk of the National Assembly Advocate Lebohang Maema King’s Counsel (KC) said they made correspondence to them regarding their termination of their status as members of the august house adding that the gazette correcting the PR seats allocation was attached in that correspondence.
Following the protracted legal battle the court has finally granted the IEC to review and correct the PR seats allocation that the latter had miscalculated.
IEC had on October 13, under Legal Notice No. 100 of 2022 published a gazette for the names of people who will become MPs. This was done after the completion of the results announcement and allocation of the Proportional Representation (PR) seats.
Upon reviewing its work post the October 7, 2022 national elections, the Commission realized that it had wrongly calculated the PR seats and it lodged an urgent court application asking the court to grant it leave to correct its error.
The IEC petition was about “reviewing, correcting, and setting Legal Notice No.100, of 2022 as irregular [and] an order reviewing, correcting and setting aside the allocation of compensatory seats made following the General Elections of the 7th October 2022…”
In calculating the PR, the Commission had wrongly included the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) and the National Independent Party (NIP) causing miscalculation and consequently misappropriation of seats.
Section 69.1 of the Constitution grants the High Court jurisdiction to hear and determine the questions whether: (b). “any person has been validly elected as a member of the National Assembly”; or; (d). “proportional representation seats have been properly allocated”.
The misallocated seats were given to the Democratic Congress (DC) and Alliance of Democrats (AD) being allocated three and one respectively. DC had in total 29 seats and AD five seats and after the PR seats review, the former now has 26 and the latter four.
The High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns granted the IEC’s prayers of correcting the PR seats.
The ruling handed down by panel of three judges, Judge Moreke Mokhesi, Judge Keketso Moahloli and Judge Fumane Khabo says “If it is accepted, as it should, that when all the parties’ provisional compensatory seats are added they equal fifty (50) seats, ten (10) more than 40 seats set aside for proportional representation seats, then in terms of Section 3(2) (b) this should be the final allocation, but instead the provisions of Sections 3(2)(b) onwards are triggered.
“This is the second round of seats allocation. This provision states that if the total provisional compensatory seats of all the parties add to more than forty proportional representation seats at stake, the IEC shall determine the final allocation of seats in the following manner:
“(i) if a political party has won equal or more constituency seats than its provisional allocation, then constituency seats shall be its final allocation.
“(ii) the Commission shall exclude the political party from further calculation of compensatory seats: and
“(iii) the Commission shall then allocate the remaining political parties, number of seats which are available for allocation by following the same procedure contained in section 2 and 3 (1).”
The judgment further reads: “From this formulation, it is evident that the RFP and NIP should be excluded from the allocation of seats in the second round. Clearly, the exclusion of RFP and NIP is bound to affect the outcome of seat allocation under this round.
“The NIP should be excluded because its provisional allocation of compensatory seats is one (1) and had (sic) won one Constituency. To have included both parties in the second round of seat allocation was contrary to the law and should be reviewed, corrected and set aside.”
Meanwhile, the DC has appealed this ruling and the case is yet to be heart in the apex court.
Welcoming the new members, the Speaker of the National Assembly wished them success adding that to be elected in the parliament is a privilege bestowed upon an individual in their country.
The National Assembly has a total of 120 members of which 80 are elected from the constituencies and 40 are elected through the PR party list. The PR model was adopted so that small parties may have representation in the august house and wider and more inclusive representation.
The final allocation of seats per party stands as follows: All Basotho Convention (ABC) 8, AD now 4, Basotho Action Party (BAP) 6, Basotho Covenant Movement (BCM) 1, BNP 2, BPP 1, DC 26, Hope 1, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) 3, LPC 1, Movement for Economic Change (MEC) 4, Mpulule Political Summit (MPS) 1, National Independent Party (NIP) 1, Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) 1, Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) 57, Socialist Revolution (SR) 2 and UFC 1.
Hon Tota and Hon Masiu have joined the government while Hon Mapesela and Hon Leshota have joined the opposition camp.
Hon Mapesela promised to be a loyal opposition for His Majesty’s government. He however noted that he will support the government where it is doing right.
For his part, Hon Masiu said their alliance will advance the course for reforms, saying this is the reason they support the government.