MASERU – The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is planning to collaborate with the Ministry of Home Affairs to establish a seamless shared database during registration so that voter’s name immediately reflects on IEC system once their ID number is entered.
In cases where voters have passed on, the system will immediately reflect for any IEC work. The collaboration was initiated in the past but Home Affairs withdrew. It’s not clear why. IEC Research and Evaluation Officer, Doris Lintši, revealed this at a media workshop on the evaluation of the 2023 local government elections held on Monday this week.
She said they had previously worked on the project together with the home affairs ministry but the collaboration had been abandoned. IEC has once again approached them to revive the collaboration in order to make their work easier. She said it will be easier to remove people who have died from their system once Home Affairs have the number and names.
Some of the issues discussed during the workshop include compositions of Councils/Electoral Divisions (EDs), Civic, Voter, and electoral education and nomination of candidates, voter registration, production of election register, engagement of media in electoral processes, to mention a few.
The composition of EDs is structured in such a way that there are about 950 EDs in the country, 64 community councils, 11 urban councils, one Maseru City Council (MCC) and 10 districts. While presenting on engagement of the media in electoral processes most media personnel showed that engagement was there but it did not include all media houses, especially when it comes to adverts issued by IEC.
They added that although there was a media training programme ahead of elections, it did not serve its purpose and the time it took was very limited. Some of the recommendations made for improvement areas include that IEC should make voter registration trend like HIV/AIDS as there are so many campaigns made daily but registration on elections is only active when elections approach even though it should go on regularly, including during times when there are no elections.
Journalist Boitumelo Koloi said IEC should be an independent entity just as it is called and should really be a body on its own and have the upper hand when it comes to elections and not seek validation from government. Koloi also spoke about the role IEC can play to reduce voter apathy through voter education. He added that by the next elections, they wish to see at least 87 percent of Basotho voting. Having politicians lie about things that they will do for the people once they have voted for them should also be a thing of the past and said that will work only if IEC and media collaborate.
“If IEC and media work together, we will be able to empower the electorate so that they make good decisions. We look forward to more of these kinds of workshops which are informative and engaging. It is also important to engage further not just IEC holding a workshop and telling us about feedbacks but there should be an engagement of two bodies collaborating further,” he said.
The local government elections were held on September 29, 2023 and the turn-out was mostly low for most Electoral Divisions (EDs), the reason being Basotho have lost hope in voting altogether as those responsible are not accounting enough.
One example of low voter turn-out was witnessed at the male prison where most of them did not vote during the local government elections.
In an interview on the day of elections, Male Prison 7A Station Manager Tšitso Molemohi had said according to their ballot book they were expecting at least a 50 percent turn-out but by the afternoon less than half the expected voters had cast their ballot. She said by 5pm when they closed the voting station, they believe they would had not reached the 50 percent as anticipated. Some of those interviewed on why they had not voted stated that they were disillusioned having voted over the years but nothing had changed. They felt that their efforts only go to waste therefore they had lost hope.