Three activists, Kananelo Boloetse, Motsamai Mokotjo, and Resetselemang Jane, have thrown their weight behind a recent constitutional case filed against the Council of State.
The case, brought forward by five political parties, demands the court to order the Council of State to advise His Majesty King Letsie III to establish a tribunal to assess the fitness of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) commissioners to hold office.
The three commissioners are Mphasa Mokhochane (Chairman), Dr. Karabo Mokobocho-Mohlakoana, and Tšoeu Petlane
The political parties that filed the application are the Basotho Action Party (BAP), Democratic Congress (DC), All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP), and Popular Front for Democracy (PFD).
The respondents are the Council of State, the King, the Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, the Attorney General (AG), Mokhochane, Mokobocho-Mohlakoana, Petlane, IEC, Speaker of National Assembly, and the President of Senate.
“The issues raised in this case and our letter are of immense significance to the democratic fabric of our nation,” Boloetse, Mokotjo, and Jane said in a statement on Monday.
They said the Council of State must fulfill its constitutional duties while being transparent and accountable in its decision-making processes.
“We trust the court will conduct an unbiased and thorough examination of the case, considering all arguments and evidence presented, and deliver a fair and just verdict,” they said.
POLITICAL PARTIES WANT INDEPENDENT IEC
In a founding affidavit, BAP leader Professor Nqosa Mahao stated that the IEC has to be impartial and independent, transparent, and accountable and charged that the commissioners failed to demonstrate these virtues during the national assembly elections which were held on October 3, last year.
“The absence of an independent, competent, and well-structured Electoral Management Body (EMB) bears the potential of affecting the proper administration of the state,” Mahao said.
He argued that the law imposes an obligation on the appointing authority, the King, to appoint persons of high moral character and proven integrity.
“It is therefore significant for the officer bearers to show their commitment to the mandate espoused above but given the incidents that took place with their assumption of duty and continued occupation of office, my party raised concerns about the competence of the incumbent Commissioners to meet their statutory mandate,” he said.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
The call for the IEC commissioners to vacate office was first made by Boloetse, Mokotjo, and Jane on January 3, this year when they petitioned the Council of State to advise His Majesty King Letsie III to establish a tribunal to investigate their fitness to hold office.
The constitution allows for the Council of State to advise the King to establish a tribunal to investigate the commissioners’ fitness to hold office.
“…we humbly request that the Council of State should represent to His Majesty King III that the question of removing the three Commissioners of IEC has to be investigated,” Boloetse, Mokotjo, and Jane stated in their January letter.
The King’s acting senior private secretary, Nyolosi Mphale, responded to the trio’s letter on January 17, this year.
“Please be advised that your letter has been communicated to the Office of the Attorney General for consideration. That is the Office you could have addressed your concern to as it is the office mandated to deal with such matters,” Mphale said.
BAP also wrote to the Council of State asking it to advise the King to set up a tribunal to investigate the commissioners’ fitness to hold office.
“We have observed over time the commissioners’ inability to handle their responsibilities with due diligence and sensitivity required from incumbents of such a high office,” read the BAP letter signed by the party’s secretary general, Lebohang Thotanyane, in January.
The following month, in February, BNP, Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP), Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), and United for Change (UFC) also wrote to the Council of State requesting it to “urgently advise the King to appoint a tribunal to investigate IEC Commissioners’ fitness to hold office”.