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.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.