/ 11 October 2022

Revolution for Prosperity wins Lesotho elections but observers flag irregularities

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In some cases voters' names did not appear both on the IEC held voters’ roll or the one with party agents yet their names appeared in the IEC website when they checked.

Lesotho’s newly established party, Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), has won the country’s election, but failed to gain an outright majority.

The RFP, formed by businessperson Sam Matekane in March this year, won 56 parliamentary seats, the Independent Electoral Commission announced on Monday.

The Democratic Congress (DC), led by Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, came second with 29 seats while the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) had only eight seats.

The RFP will band together with other parties to reach 60 plus one seats required to form a coalition government.

Although the elections, held on October 7, have been hailed as peaceful, the observation missions have questioned the accuracy of the voters’ roll with the possible inclusion of the names of dead people. 

There were also reports of errors in voters’ data on the voter’s roll.

This was disclosed by the chief observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission, Ignazio Corrao, at the announcement of the mission’s preliminary report on the elections following Friday’s poll.

The EU election mission said the voter list contained more than 1.3 million voters, made up of 767 158 women and 616 868 men. 

There were 87 international observers for the 10 districts made up of 80 constituencies and 371 of the 3 149 polling stations were visited.

“Closer to election day, allegations of errors and inaccuracies in the voters’ list were

expressed in the media. The IEC denied the allegations and threatened anyone spreading inaccurate information with civil action,” Corrao said.

The IEC’s director of elections, Mpaiphele Maqutu, said there were irregularities on the voters’ roll but these had been resolved.

“No major violations or election incidents were reported throughout the voting process.

However, there were a few reported voter roll inaccuracies but these were handled … speedily to accommodate the voters and ensure protection of the voter’s right,” Maqutu said.

The EU mission’s observations were substantiated by the Southern African Development Community and the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) electoral observation missions on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

Although acknowledging the efforts of the IEC in fulfilling its mandate, Frans Kapofi, head of the SADC observation mission, said they noted the concerns regarding inaccuracies in the first certified voters’ roll published after the voters’ verification exercise.

“The first certified voters roll did not include names of some registered voters and it contained names of some deceased persons and duplicated voters’ names. Further, there were also complaints of delays in the publication of the final voters roll,” Kapofi said.

The executive director of LCN, Seabata Motsamai, said the voters’ roll was generally a concern and an area of confusion for numerous reasons in all constituencies.

Motsamai added that names of voters were missing and party agents had lists that were different from those held by the IEC staff. In some cases, voters’ names did not appear on the IEC held voters’ roll and that of the party agents yet their names appeared in the IEC website.

“A case in point was that, LCN observers noted that at Qoaling constituency No 37 at Loretto Primary School, where at 8pm about 50 voters were still waiting for IEC officials to print an updated voters’ roll which would in turn allow them to cast their votes,” said Motsamai.

The LCN said this group of voters were permitted to vote beyond the stipulated time of closure of 5pm.

Corrao said the IEC’s poor human and financial resources, coupled with the large number of registered parties, made it difficult for it to regulate campaigning and party funding.

“There is a legal requirement for political parties and independent candidates to declare

to the IEC any donation exceeding M200 000 but no declaration has been made since


He said foreign funding for campaign purposes, authorised by law, puts the country at risk of foreign influence and is not in line with international good practice for democratic elections.

The EU’s election mission found that campaign funding, which is allocated to parties by the IEC, was disbursed only a few weeks before the elections.

Corrao also suggested that the media’s poor finances may have jeopardised editorial independence and resulted in the blurring of editorial and paid-for content.

The EU election mission said that generally election day was peaceful with well-organised and professionally managed opening, voting and counting.

This story is brought to you by a collaboration between the Mail & Guardian and Newsday Lesotho.