The Brenthurst Foundation: Statement on the Lesotho Election
Brenthurst Foundation deployed 14 observers led by Mr Tendai Biti, former Finance Minister of Zimbabwe and Vice-President of the Citizens Coalition for Change and included other members from South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Sudan the United Kingdom.
Acting on an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Brenthurst Foundation deployed 14 observers based in Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Berea, Maseru, Leribe, Butha-Buthe, Taung, Qalabane, Thaba-Phechela and Quthing on voting day to monitor voting during the parliamentary election held on 7 October 2022.
A total of 434 of the 3154 polling stations were visited — 14% of the total.
The mission was led by Mr Tendai Biti, former Finance Minister of Zimbabwe and Vice-President of the Citizens Coalition for Change and included other members from South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Sudan the United Kingdom.
Prior to voting the mission met with the three commissioners of the Lesotho IEC, Mr Mphasa Mokhochane (Chairman), Dr Karabo Mokoboche-Mohlakoana and Mr Tsoeu Petlane — who gave a full briefing on the readiness of the IEC.
The mission also met His Majesty King Letsie III, Prime Minister Dr Mokoetsi Majoro, Mr Sam Matikane of the Revolution for Prosperity party, Mr Katleho Mosotho, a candidate and representative of Democratic Congress and Mr Motlasi Maqelepo, Deputy Leader of the Basotho Action Party. There was generally enthusiastic support for the forthcoming poll.
The mission was also briefed on the economy by Mr Yoichiro Ishihara, World Bank Country Representative for Lesotho, Mr Seabata Motsamai, Executive Director of the Lesotho Council of NGOs and Mr Ricky Chang of Formosa Textiles.
These were our observations:
Polling stations had the necessary officials and materials to conduct the election and, with few exceptions, opened on or close to 07h00 as expected.
Party agents from all the leading parties were present, often in large numbers and were able to observe the election without impediment.
Security officials were present and did not interfere in voting.
Ballot boxes were demonstrated to be empty and then sealed by officials in the presence of party
Some of the rooms in which voting took place were too small, resulting in crowding, especially due to
the large numbers of party agents who were present.
Procedures were followed by election officials and party agents had copies of the voters role and were able to verify each voter.
The mission noted with concern that there were incidents of names not appearing on the voters role. These were dealt with by redirecting voters to the polling stations where they were registered, or, in some instances, allowing the vote to take place with the consent of party agents.
Polling stations closed at 17h00 and those in the queue at this time were permitted to vote.
COUNTING AT POLLING STATIONS
- Counting commenced after polling stations closed. Ballot boxes were opened in the presence of party agents and the number of votes cast was reconciled with the counterfoils.
- Counting took place with each ballot paper being held up for party agents to see and the official reading out the electors decision.
- Votes for each party were then counted in full view of the party agents and the totals were written onto a sheet and pasted in a public space on the polling station with the party agents consent.
- There were cases where a lack of electricity made lighting poor but officials nonetheless ensured that the ballots were visible to the party agents during counting.
- The Brenthurst Foundation observation team is confident that the election procedures were peaceful, efficient, transparent and free of interference by political parties or security officials.
- Officials were well-trained and displayed authority and compassion. They had a positive relationship with party agents and, where necessary, sought and obtained their consensus to resolve problems when they arose.
- The turnout at polling stations appeared to be lower than expected at the polling stations visited by the observer team.
- The citizens of Lesotho were given every opportunity to freely express their electoral choice.
- Based on our experiences, we are confident that the activities of voting and the counting of ballots on election day at the polling stations were free, fair and credible.
- Lesotho should be commended on the conduct of these elections.
Tendai Biti, Former Minister of Finance, Zimbabwe, Vice President of the Citizens Coalition for Change, Head of Mission