Parliament allocated to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) over M92 million in order to aid the electoral body to commence its preparations for the 2022 elections showpiece.
A total of M92, 848, 720 was approved by Parliament on April 18, 2021 for utilisation by IEC to set in motion preparatory wheels to next year’s National Assembly General elections as well as National Local Government elections.
The preparations follow the appointment bosses of the IEC, commissioners Mphasa Mokhochane, Limpho Mokobocho and Tšoeu Petlane in December last year following the expiration of contracts of their predecessors Justice Mahapela Lehohla, Advocate ‘Mamosebi Pholo and Dr Makase Nyaphisi in the January of 2019.
However, according to IEC Spokesperson Tuoe Hantši, the allocated funds will not necessarily cater for the costs of next year’s elections but will aid the Commission in forging ahead with other preparatory activities leading to the polls. He pointed out that at this moment they yet to find out and make determination of how much to request for the polls, while stressing that clearly holding elections will cost much more than that.
The last edition of general elections left a financial dent of about M248 million to the national fiscas, and according to Hantši, the next elections will likely cost far more as a result of, inter alia, the upsurge of commodity prices influenced by an ailing global economy as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the elections date will, as a matter of legal requisite be announced by His Majesty King Letsie III, IEC has said that national assembly elections would be held around September or October next year since the tenure of office of the current Parliament ends in July 2022. Following the lapse of a National Assembly’s term of office, the Constitution dictates that the King will dissolve Parliament and call for elections which should be held within 90 days of the call.
“In preparation for the next year elections, IEC is seized with bi-elections by-elections in the five constituencies wherein there are vacancies as well constituency demarcation of boundaries,” said Hantši.
According to law, the electoral constituencies have to be revaluated and redrawn every decade, the last of which was carried out in 2010, and could not continue last year due to absence of incumbent commissioners to man the elections-managing body.
There are vacancies in the constituencies of ‘Makhoroana, Kolo, Maliepetsane and Mohale’s Hoek after the deaths of their Members of Parliament (MPs) Lefu Hlomelang, Putsoane Leeto, Mpalipali Molefe and Sentje Lebona respectively, as well as in the Qacha’s Nek constituency following the resignation of Pontšo Sekatle.
National Assembly vacancies happen if and when constituency legislators succumb to death while in office or resign, and are filled through by-elections.
Hantši noted that according to the law no elections can be held six months from the general elections hence they are already preparing for by-elections in those constituencies later this year.
He added that plans are for national Assembly and local government elections to be held together.