On October 7, 2022, Lesotho will hold National Assembly elections after King Letsie III dissolved Parliament, in line with procedures to prepare for new polls. The final results of the election will be announced the following day.
Under Lesotho’s electoral legal framework, it is the lawmakers in the National Assembly that elect a Prime Minister to head Government. The Premier usually comes from the party with the majority in 120 – seat parliament.
Secrets Known has learned that for the first time ever, the European Union is deploying an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe the National Assembly elections. The EOM comprises 22 long-term observers deployed across the country to follow the election campaigns, and 30 short-term observers who will reinforce the mission on election day. It is understood that the EU EOM will remain in the country until the completion of the electoral process.
Like many other African countries, the political finance legal framework in Lesotho is by and large wanting. There are no laws requiring or governing public funding of political parties. Since 1993, public funding has been made available to political parties during elections for campaigning purposes, the issue is a lack of transparency and accountability for the funds.
The lack of transparency in the determining of the allocation of funds resulted in a shift towards the determination of the allocation formula by the political parties themselves, by the 2002 elections.
It is reported that when political parties in this kingdom nation receive public funding, they often do not use it for the stipulated purpose and there is no regulation within the law to prosecute misuse of public funds disbursed to political parties. The downside is that these funds are not even audited by Auditor-General, nor are they subject to the review of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.
Lesotho has suffered repeated bouts of instability and army interference in politics, and partly this is caused by undisclosed and opaque money flowing into the patronized kingdom country. Political parties are permitted to receive funds from outside Lesotho for the conducting of election campaigns from any organisation or person.
The only requirements are that funds over M20,000 be disclosed to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and that the funds are paid into the party’s declared campaign transaction bank account. Having this provision inked in law is one thing and enforcing/following it is another thing.
The political party with more money often forms the majority in the country’s 120 – seat Parliament and often goes on to produce the Prime Minister that heads the government.