Following deployment of Electoral Educators by civil society organisations affiliated to Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) in all the constituencies within Mokhotlong, Botha-Bothe, Leribe, Maseru, Thaba-Tseka, Mafeteng, Mohale’shoek, Quthing and Qacha’snek to persuade Basotho to Rise and Vote in the upcoming General Elections, LCN has learnt with dismay that some political parties discredit this exercise as partisan campaign for other political parties. Acting within its mandate to safeguard the interests of its members and to protect the good image of the civil society fraternity in the Kingdom, LCN wishes to:
(i) Categorically deny that its members are campaigning for any political party;
(ii) Declare that LCN members in the said areas are implementing electoral education within the parameters of professional conduct guided by the Electoral Education Manual provided by the Independent Electoral Education (IEC), the English and Sesotho versions of National Assembly Electoral Act 2011 and other materials approved by the IEC;
(iii) Announce that LCN members doing electoral education do so within the contractual arrangements entered into with IEC.
Although several allegations have been levelled against organisations doing the work in Mantšonyane, Leribe, Mafeteng and Quthing, no concrete evidence has been given in terms of names of Electoral Educators canvassing for political parties. Even politicians who had the audacity to make such allegations over to the media have not produced such names they claimed they had to the relevant organisations to deal with the matter.
By way of reminding the nation of the role of civil society organisations in the issues of governance in this country, LCN wishes to point out that Democracy has always been at the centre of civil society activities in Lesotho. Under the leadership of LCN, civil society has been involved in election issues for as long as the former was established. Over the years, LCN has spearheaded the role of civil society during elections, either Local Government or General Elections, especially in terms of electoral education prior to and observation during the elections.
However, for the upcoming general elections, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) works directly with individual civil society organisations independently of the umbrella body LCN. This partnership between IEC and individual organisations,, however, does not divorce LCN from its affiliates. To this end, member organisations and LCN reached a consensus that LCN by virtue of being the mother body is well placed to play the role of coordinating the organisations which have been co-opted to conduct electoral education. This it would undertake by popularising the electoral education campaign through the media, participating in electoral conflict management and resolution efforts and holding regular meetings with member NGOs involved in the electoral education campaign.
To date, member organisations involved in the electoral education campaign have already deployed foot soldiers in the respective constituencies in the allocated districts, using various strategies such as public gatherings, door to door campaigns and sports activities to reach all groups eligible for voting at community level. A total of 678 electoral educators have been deployed. They all use one electoral education manual, which has been prepared by IEC, and as has been indicated, are under contractual obligation to be guided by the said manual. .
Beyond the electoral education campaign, the Lesotho Council of NGOs will prepare and send an election observation delegation throughout the 80 Constituencies, and this will be made up of LCN membership. The Council will further coordinate regional observers from SADC Council of NGOs and others that may take part so that the observation exercise yields good results.