Lesotho’s ‘tuckshop’ political parties increase IEC registered parties to 53

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By Lerema Pheea

Last week, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) unveiled seven new political parties it had registered recently.

This brings the number of parties that are expected to be in good standing and eligible to contest the 2022 general elections to 53.

But, what has come out clearly as an outright problem that comes with the proliferation of what some detractors termed “tuckshop” political parties is their inability to promote political plurality or even gain a single seat in the national assembly of Lesotho.

Currently, the National Assembly of Lesotho is home to about four smallest political parties in numerical strength that each has just one member of parliament with the remainder of the proportional representation seats occupied by larger parties.

Detractors argue that the increase of political parties that contest elections stretches far too wide the nation’s budget spends on elections for no national interest that the small “tuck shop” political parties serve but the family interest of their leaders.

One of the detractors said when looking at the composition of representatives of political parties in the National Reforms Authority one would see that most of the representatives of the various political parties that are said to be parties outside parliament are composed of political leaders or family members of the political leaders of this tiny parties.

The detractors argued that the proliferation of political parties seems to be a means of employment for politicians as they make a left out of projects like the National Reforms Authority and election time campaign funding from the IEC.

Some of the parties, KDNews understands only make the required 500 members at the time of registration but come elections time fail to garner the same number they were required to be registered.

The registration of these parties comes at a time a controversial audio clip of women professing that for one to have the requisite 500 people’s names one can visit a graveyard and take names of deceased persons in order to make the number.

However, the allegation about the use of rave yard names has been dismissed as false and misleading information by the IEC Spokeprson Tuoe Hantsi who said the IEC still conducts verification of all persons alleged to be members of a party before it is registered.

Last week when the IEC announced that the seven new parties successfully completed their registration and were issued certificates of registration It was a jubilant day for the members of these tiny new political parties that received their certificate from IEC.

Director of elections, Mpaiphele Maqutu said among these seven political parties, three of them are led by youths, and four are led by women.

He said the ceremony is an indication that these parties have fulfilled their eligibility criterion to contest the country’s general elections.

He said as their being awarded certificates of registration is an indication and confirmation that the parties have been successfully registered.

The newly registered political parties are Basotho Economic Enrichment (BEE), Basotho Social Party (BSP), Bahlabani ba Tokoloho Movement (BTM), Khothalang Basotho (KB), Lesotho Economic Freedom Fighters (LEFF), Metsi and Natural Resources (MNR), and Tšepo Ea Basotho (TEB).

Kotsoana Motsie from IEC told the parties to go and make Basotho participate more in elections and work hard to protect their position as the parties that are able to contest elections but not to quit or remain on the same level.