The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has used close to P134 million in the just ended registration exercise for 2019 General Elections. However the registration attracted low numbers in relation to the target when compared to the previous registration undertaking for 2014 general Elections.
The registration took place from 3 September to 11 November 2018; then the first supplementary registration was held on 17 December 2018 to 31st March 2019 whilst the last one was on 15 April 2019 all the way to 28 April 2019. The Commission spent the money on the whole registration process including on advertising and publicity, registration materials, staff and non-staff workers like registration clerks, on car fuels and accommodation among others.
IEC Chief Elections Officer, Motlapele Raleru confirmed to Weekend Post this week in an interview: “yes I can confirm the IEC has spent 134 million pula for the registration project only, for the upcoming elections.” Altogether, the registration exercise attracted around 933 627 voters who are eligible to vote. In the first voter registration, 753 470 registered; the first supplementary garnered 40 738; and the last having attained139 354.
The IEC mouth piece justified that the 2018/19 registration numbers dropped due to a variety of reasons, some of which will be revealed in the coming IEC evaluation report which is expected to be undertaken from next week. Osupile Maroba, IEC Spokesperson attributed the low turn out to a probable population growth in the country over the last few years. “This time around we didn’t do as good as in 2014,” he conceded.
Maroba observed that this year they have registered 933 627 of the targeted 1 067 218 million and “now we have 73.2% going to 2019 General Elections” adding that while previously in 2014, only 824 073 people were registered when going into the elections out of the voting population of 1,067,218 million making it “77% of the target which was a better achievement.” He added “as IEC, population grows, as for young people, one would have expected youth orientated strategies on our part to encourage youth to vote than doing the normal strategy for all Batswana,” he highlighted.
He also pointed out that if the Commission probably could have started a vigorous registration publicity drive earlier to increase awareness and activity of young people also would have beard positive results for the youth. “So, I believe we need a study to see where we went wrong and how we didn’t take percentage of youth on board, which makes a larger population of the voting community,” Maroba stated.
But as at November 11 2018, he said the IEC was able to disaggregate the youth registered population and it was sitting at 30% of the first 750 000 which was 297 000 at the time. In the same period (still up to November 2018) IEC spent 2.4 million pula on publicity. Unlike 2019, with 824,073 registered voters the 2014 general elections were the most anticipated and turned out to be the most successful in terms of voter turnout since independence.
In total, 698,409 or 84.60% of voters voted in the 2014 general elections. The number of registered voters however constituted about 52% of the eligible voting population in Botswana. The election results show that the BDP fielded candidates in all the 57 constituencies, and managed to win 37 parliamentary seats. While the UDC fielded 52 parliamentary candidates and 17 of them won parliamentary seats, the BCP had 54 candidates and won 3 parliamentary seats.
As it stands currently, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will, in the approaching 2019 General Elections, be also in the ring with Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Alliance for Progressives (AP) and some independent candidates. Meanwhile, according to the fourth edition of The Road to Botswana Parliament (revised and updated in 2017) compiled by the parliamentary Research Service; in 2009 a total of 725, 817 Batswana were registered out of a target of 650 000.
In the Election report (2009) a total of 544,647 people, or 76.51%, of registered voters voted in the election. The registered voters constituted about 68% of the eligible voting population in Botswana. Of the total registered, 404, 283 were female and 321, 534 male. A total of 320,561 youth between the ages of 18 and 29 had registered. The report also states that in 2004, 552,848 Batswana registered for the general election. In 1999, a total of 459,662 Batswana registered, compared to 370,169 recorded in 1994.
In 1994, only 280,597 Batswana had registered as opposed to the desired target of 400,000. In 1989, a total of 367,069 voters were registered, increasing from 293,571 recorded in 1984, the number increased from 230,321 recorded in 1979. In 1974, there were estimated 239,500 eligible voters in Botswana. It would appear that some people had registered more than once.
A total of 140, 426 Batswana registered to vote in the 1969 general elections. Out of a total of 188,950 people who registered to vote during the first 1965 general elections, 140,789 voted, translating into 74.5 % voter turnout. Meanwhile a University of Botswana (UB) Political Science lecturer who is a local renowned political analyst told this publication when contacted for his observation that the voter registration numbers have gone down this year because of ongoing conflicts in all political parties (internal).
At the moment, he said the ruling BDP is embroiled in bitter fight between the ex-president Ian Khama and incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi over what looks like a fight for power and authority in the affairs of the country. On the other hand, he added that the main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which is made up of Botswana national Front (BNF), Botswana Congress party (BCP and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) is also caught up in a politically motivated, hostile and unrelenting court case over the expulsion of embattled ex-affiliate, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
“Voter registration numbers shrinked because the game changed. Political dynamics in 2014 and 2019 are different. In 2019 all political parties have their own internal conflicts. They were drained in trying to solve their issues. They focused on their issues and forgot the electorate. So now the voter was left in the lurch, confused and felt neglected and therefore found no need to register to vote in the next elections,” Sesa pointed out.
The well-established analyst in local polity further stressed that the Khama/Masisi rivalry as well as the Boko (UDC)/Pilane (BMD) court tussles may have influenced the electorate not to register en-masse. “They didn’t know and still remain uncertain if indeed the UDC will contest the impending elections under the current arrangement and also whether the BDP internal wrangling’s will not lead to a split of both the party and to some extent the country,” he said.
According to Sesa, there has been so much action in the Botswana political space and some sections of electorates are still in limbo. “I for one blame all political parties. Apart to their internal fights, they did not adequately assist the IEC in persuading unsuspecting electorates to go register in their numbers. They rather focused much time on their wars.” However, Sesa on the positive sides, he believes the party wars were signifying the parties ‘growth in the country’s 54 year old democracy.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.