A group of Lesotho activists has petitioned King Letsie III to appoint a tribunal to investigate the fitness of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials to hold office after the body admitted that it erroneously calculated some of the results for last year’s parliamentary polls.In the petition on Thursday, the activists want the king to order a probe into the conduct of IEC commissioners, which should determine whether they should remain in office after European Union poll observers discovered an error in the calculation of results for four proportional representation (PR) seats during elections held in October 2022.
The IEC later acknowledged the error but did not nullify the results, prompting the activists to demand that the commissioners should step down on grounds of incompetency and that the incident is likely to set a bad precedent on public accountability.
“Months later, no one has been held accountable for that embarrassing mistake and this lack of accountability is undermining the legitimacy of the rule of law,” the petition said.
The IEC admitted last October that it erroneously allocated 11 PR seats instead of eight to one of the opposition parties, and that it incorrectly allocated three PR seats instead of two to another opposition party.
“It is against this background that we humbly request that the council of state should represent to His Majesty King Letsie III that the question of removing the three (IEC) commissioners has to be investigated,” the activists said.
This anomaly has seen four lawmakers erroneously sworn-in, a development the activists argue is costing taxpayers M2.4 million (about US$140,350) a year in salaries and allowances.
“The taxpayers are forking out over M200,000 each month to pay the salaries and benefits of four people who were not supposed to be in the National Assembly in the first place,” they said.