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Gov’t may abandon EVMs

Publishing Date : 15 August, 2017


…as Opposition issues threats

The Secretary General of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Botsalo Ntuane has issued the strongest indication yet that the ruling party is developing cold feet on the use of scandalous Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in 2019.

The EVM’s were transformed from simple idea to bill and lastly into an Act of parliament in controversial fashion with the speed of light and VIP right of way. The chief opposition parties’ gripe with the election machines is concern that the ruling party intends to steal a mandate to prolong their stay in power in an election where the opposition bloc is projected to be at its peak. The unease with the voting machines is proliferated by the fact that they coincide with a time when most observers believe the ruling party is in its last days in power.

Ntuane stated at a panel discussion this week that the EVM question will be top priority at the party’s elective congress in two months’ time. The discussion was hosted by Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung and Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations. He however, repeatedly stated that he believes that the solution that will come out of the congress will be in consonance with the views of the larger public. “We have since decided that this issue will form a natural agenda at the July congress. We are flexible and we remain open-minded.”

Ntuane further described the issue as “a lightning rod that we must discuss and recognize as such because ultimately when we win as a ruling party we should win legitimately.” He continued: “From here we are going to engage. We are going to discuss. It’s an agenda at the next congress. It’s a much larger platform. Let’s go and discuss this matter. It will come to conclusion one way or the other.” “We are very much alive to the controversy but it’s a natural debate. This is ongoing but we are confident that it will be to the satisfaction of this nation. I can comment her without fear that the position we take will be in good terms with the public.”

Ntuane however sought to absolve his party from formulating the EVM idea stating that it is a conception of the Independent Electoral Commission and that they will not throw the commission under the bus in the face of vitriol. “IEC brought this idea to us; however we are not throwing IEC under the bus. We can’t disown laws passed by our own majoritarian caucus. Debates are going on inside the BDP.” IEC in the same day also sought to absolve itself of conceptualizing the EVM voting process.

When asked why the commission is hell-bent on fixing a functioning system, EVM coordinator Gabriel Seeletso responded thus: “I don’t know. Somebody who saw that it was broken decided to fix it. We only implement. That question is beyond the audience, Bharat and the commission to answer.” The Spokesperson for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dithapelo Keorapetse and former Gaborone Mayor and Botswana National Front representative,Nelson Ramaotwana issued the chilliest warning as yet with regards to the use of EVM’s in the 2019 general elections.

Keorapetse stated that they are not only going to boycott elections and fold their arms but will ensure that they do not take place and that they will take to the streets. “We will not go to the polls that will be rigged and we will take to the streets.” He warned. Keorapetse also sounded the same warning in parliament recently on an EVM debate. Keorapetse described the EVM concept as ‘an unwelcome development’ which comes at a time “when the BDP legitimacy has been eroded since independence.”

He also state that the citizenry was not consulted in the introduction of the machines into an Act, something which is of fundamental importance in a democracy and matters of elections. “Democracy presupposes that people be consulted by the rulers. Real participatory democracy and not paternalistic democracy where a parent decides for the child.” he stated. He further noted that there is a factual finding in a top Indian court that EVM’s are not foolproof. Ramaotwana also wondered why government is intent on introducing the same machines that are causing strife where they originate.

He stated that the introduction of EVM’s did not follow a referendum in contradiction to a Court of Appeal ruling on general elections. “When you come up with a system that determined who gets into power, we are saying, are we going to have a dictatorship of the people in voting or dictatorship of machines.it will cause chaos in the country.” Ramaotsana said.



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