The Independent Electoral Commission of Lesotho (IEC) organised a BRIDGE Electoral Security Module course from 20 to 24 March 2017 at the Blue Mountain Inn in Berea, Lesotho for security officials of three major security agencies in Lesotho -The Lesotho Mountain Police Services (LMPS), The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and the National Security Services (NSS). Participants who attended are Senior Police officers from all districts of Lesotho including the officers from the Police Head Quarters responsible for police operations, Senior Army officers mainly from the Air wing and officers from the National Security Services. Their positions ranged from Senior Superintendent, Superintendent, Senior Inspectors and Inspectors, Majors, Lieutenants and 2nd Lieutenant and Assistant Directors.
The aim of the electoral security training was to expose the security personnel to the concept of electoral security and to introduce them to various aspects and activities of elections, which need security throughout the Electoral Cycle. It was also aimed at enabling them to make thorough and proactive plans for preventing electoral conflict and violence and provide appropriate solutions where necessary. Furthermore, the course was intended to empower security personnel to assess security threats, security risks and devise relevant mechanism for handling such.
The rationale behind the electoral security project is to establish means of curbing the increasing rate of electoral violence, tension between and within political parties, emerging electoral trends that threaten peace and stability of the country and the inability of security agencies to differentiate between security of elections and other general security issues. Therefore the training is intended to provide the security officers with an opportunity to explore and discuss, as integral elements in the delivery of electoral activities, the role of security in planning, IEC staff activities and identifying relevant stakeholders involved in security planning and those who need to be secured and the security requirements for each of the electoral stakeholders.
In preparation for the up-coming Elections in June 2017, the course therefore serves as the basis for examining the varied operational environments in which electoral activities are undertaken in order to develop security plans accordingly. The participants were provided with the Electoral Calendar in order to peruse and facilitate their strategic plans for the event.
The course content included the following topics:
Security as integral part in the delivery of free and fair elections: What role does security play within the elections process? Who are the varied stakeholders in the electoral process responsible for security? What are the types of operational environments in which the IEC staff will operate? What security capacity exists to maintain an environment in which elections to be undertaken?
Security of self is paramount: How important is prior preparation when staff are deployed to varied operational locations? What are the minimum safety and security considerations, which staff should be utilized in risk areas? How does the IEC staff recognize threats that can affect them in their operational role?
All electoral activities require assessment of threat and risk: What is threat and risk? How can IEC staff determine vulnerabilities and interpret security assessments? What is Security Risk Management in an electoral environment? How to mitigate risk to facilitate electoral activities?
Planning with the involvement of Police, the Military and the National Security Services: How does the IEC interact with military or police elements in operational areas? How to liaise and function in harmony with host government security establishments? What activities exist to enhance information exchange and formulate positive liaison?
The role of security in operational activities: What is coordination? How can the activities of special interest groups, government apparatus and stakeholders be made effective in an operational role? What role does communication play in electoral activities? How can staff be prepared for communications related issues in the field? What issues should be considered in logistics and transport matters in electoral operations?
An electoral activity requires information security: How does lack of information security pose a threat to electoral roles? How important is data security in operations support? How to evaluate and audit information recording accurately? What should be undertaken in a post-election environment to maintain security of operations?
Four BRIDGE facilitators (3 Females and 1 Male) participated in the delivery of the course. The following facilitators exhibited a good combination of professional experience and diverse background and expertise:
Sibongile Zimemo (Female); (Consultant; South Africa) – Expert Lead Facilitator
Lydia Macheli (Female): (Lesotho Electoral Commission) – Workshop Facilitator
Tebogo Nalane (Male); (Lesotho Electoral Commission) – Semi-Accredited Facilitator
Thato Moeti (Female); (Lesotho Electoral Commission) – Semi- Accredited Facilitator
This programme also presented an opportunity for the two Semi-Accredited facilitators to complete their fieldwork. Both Semi-accredited facilitators, Tebogo and Thato conducted themselves in a professional manner and they executed their tasks with such diligence and commitment and were therefore accredited as a BRIDGE Workshop Facilitators.
The guest speakers for the workshop were Advocate Mamosebi Pholo; Commissioner – IEC, and Mr Mphasa Mogoshane; Director of Elections – IEC officially opened and closed the workshop respectively.
Some comments from the participants
“Most of the time we had been given tasks to provide security to different activities without exactly knowing what/who to protect but now it will become easy especially when operating jointly” (CAPT. M.E. Ramoseeka – LDF)
“It will help security agencies to be able to assess any threat or risk that might occur during the electoral process” (No Name)
“It is going to help me assess my tasks perfectly as a security person with relation to the whole electoral system of my country” (2LT. K. Motaung- LDF)
“We were able to share ideas in relation to our fields so it was very helpful” (2LT. K. Motaung- LDF)
“ I’ve learnt that all stakeholders must have a joint plan for the electoral process” (SSP. K.J. Koro- LMPS)
“I really thank IEC for the effort of providing this course because it has come in the right time” (SSP. B.M Lelingoana – LMPS)
“The course has helped clarify the areas of responsibility of each organization” (A.D P.J. Mofolo – NSS)
Congratulations to Tebogo and Thato for a job well done!
Thanking the IEC for a well-organised workshop.
Wishing all of you everything of the best in all your endeavours!