2018/19 voter registration gobbled P134 million
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.
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Mascom, Letshego partner to deliver the MyZaka instant loan
Letshego Botswana has recently partnered with Mascom to launch the Mascom MyZaka Instant Loan, a customer focused mobile money microloan service designed to provide customers with swift and convenient access to funds, driven by the underlying theme of “Ithuse” meaning “help yourself”
The loan is said to have been developed through a partnership driven by a deep customer focus with the key objectives of access, convenience and flexible financial support to customers of Letshego Botswana and Mascom through instantly disbursed short-term loans from P50 to P1 500 over the period of one month.
Letshego’s head of transformation, Molebogeng Malomo highlighted that working through agile methodologies, the partnership was able to develop and be released as what they call a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or solution. “In keeping up with the spirit of design thinking and agile methodologies, the experiences and viewpoints of both Letshego Botswana and Mascom’s customers will be valuable to inform further enhancements to the Mascom MyZaka solution,” he said.
He further noted that the partnership and the development of the MyZaka instant loan will provide both the organizations to diversify their offering and customer base, while also offering the customer more choices and flexibility to initiate and be in control of their loan requests through the self-service mobile based application.
Mascom’s Chief Executive Officer, Dzene Makhwade-Seboni also alluded that their origins, priorities and initiatives are firmly rooted in Botswana and in the success of all Batswana, and that their strategy and intent is supported by embracing innovative problem-solving.
“The speed with which Letshego has grown over the years gives us confidence that we have partnered with the right service provider. Their expertise and most of all, innovation, a value we both share, will be beneficial to MyZaka Mobile Money for growth and for the convenience of our subscribers,” she concluded.
DCEC granted warrant to arrest Khama twins
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has been granted permission to apprehend the former Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, and his twin brother Anthony Khama.
Information gathered by this publication suggests that the DCEC is actively searching for the Khama brothers, this is in connection with events that transpired whilst Tshekedi was Minister of Environment. The duo is currently in exile in South Africa together with their elder brother, and former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Approximately two weeks ago, the corruption-busting agency discreetly filed for an arrest warrant that was approved by the Broadhurst Magistrate Court for the two to be taken into custody, according to a highly placed source within the government enclave.
DCEC is also said to have filed an affidavit signed by a high-ranking officer known to this publication. Reports indicate that after being presented with details of the case, the Broadhurst magistrate issued the agency an arrest warrant.
It is also believed that the agency has been conducting extensive investigations into the supposed suspects for quite some time. Furthermore, Weekend Post has it on good word that the DCEC has been looking for methods to summon the two for questioning but has been unsuccessful.
According to unconfirmed reports, DCEC met with attorney Victor Ramalepa, who refused to accept the summons, saying that he is not their attorney. Furthermore, it is believed that DCEC has enlisted the assistance of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) in flagging the suspects’ names in the International Criminal Police Organisation INTERPOL.
Responding to WeekendPost enquiries, DCEC spokesperson Lentswe Motshoganetsi said, “I am not in good position to confirm or deny the allegation,” adding that such allegations may fall within the operational purview of the DCEC.
When contacted for comment, Ramalepa briefly stated that he is unaware of the purported arrest warrant. “I know nothing about the warrant and I haven’t been served with anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, former president Lt Gen Ian Khama recently issued a statement stating that DIS is intensifying the harassment and intimidation of him, family, friends and office employees.
“It is reprehensible for state officials and agencies to abuse government resources to terrorise their own citizens for personal gain,” said the former president in a statement.
He also stated that his brother TK’s staff and security were ordered to falsely implicate him. “Their desperate tactics will never work, it only serves to motivate me more to pursue regime change and free Botswana from tyranny,” he said
This comes after the corruption busting agency wants to interview the alleged suspects as they are still hiding in South Africa since last year.
Despite the hostility between government and Khama family going unabated, last month, Masisi extended an olive branch to Khama in political rally, indicating that he hopes the two of them settle their differences, of which the former responded by welcoming the gesture.
Khama further said his brother, Tshekedi, will facilitate the reconciliation of his behalf. Many have indicated that Masisi did not say what he said in good faith, and was only scoring political brownies since he was in Khama’s territory in Shoshong.
DCEC’s Tshepo Pilane still has his mojo
Tshepo Pilane silenced his critics after being named the head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in May of last year and served his opponents humble pie. Many believed he would only last for a month, but almost a year later, he is still standing.
Pilane, a trained soldier whose appointment surprised both the general public and some officers within the DCEC walls, has never glanced back in his duty to steer the DCEC ship forward.
It is alleged that immediately after his appointment the man embarked on a nation-wide trip touring the DCEC offices across the country in order to confirm and reaffirm the DCEC’s mandate. Sources from inside the DCEC claim that Pilane won the hearts of many DCEC employees due to his humility and plain message; “people at the top of the DCEC will come and go but the mandate of the DCEC remains relevant and unchanged.”
Pilane was appointed the Acting DCEC Director General at a time when the organisation was undergoing turbulence through court proceedings in which the suspended Director General Tymon Katlholo had interdicted the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing the DCEC premises. At the time, the DIS had raided the DCEC offices in the absence of Katlholo claiming to be looking for high profile corruption cases allegedly held by Katlholo.
At the time Pilane was Head of the DCEC Intelligence Division holding the position of Senior Assistant Director General reporting directly to the Deputy Director General Operations Ms Priscilla Israel. Contrary to his detractors, Pilane who is a reserved and humble person by nature won the support and backing of many DCEC officers due to his unassuming nature.
In a recent questionnaire sent to the DCEC regarding Pilane’s term in office, the DCEC was resolute on its commitment towards the fight against corruption. When quizzed on allegations of rife corruption since he took over, Pilane through his Public Relations (PR) office stated that the corruption landscape in Botswana remains unchanged as the DCEC continues to receive reports on allegations of corruption with sectors such as procurement (tenders and supplies), Transport (licensing and certificates), and land (dubious allocation and collusion) still leading issues reported. This trend has been consistence in the DCEC database for more than 10 years.
When further quizzed on accusations that suggest that due to the infighting at the agency, particularly at the top management, Investigations of cases has dropped significantly the DCEC claimed ignorance to the matter, stating that they are not aware of any “infights” at the DCEC “at the top management”, further stating that, investigations of cases has increased significantly, contrary to the allegations raised. “The DCEC is currently seeking new ways of expediting the investigations in order to fast track its enforcement role,” said the DCEC Head of Public Relations Lentswe Motshoganetsi. He further stated that the DCEC is in pursuit of high profile cases involving money and assets valued over P900 million. Three companies are involved in the scandal and two cases have already been committed to court while on one, investigations are about to be completed.
When WeekendPost inquired about Pilane’s roadmap, the DCEC stated that in the past, anti-corruption interventions were reactive, particularly in dealing with national projects that involve large sums of money. It was further started that in most instances investigating such matters takes a long time and in most instances, the money looted form Government in never recovered. As a result, the DCEC has taken a deliberate stance to attach its officers from the Corruption Prevention Division to be part of the implementation of these projects before, during, and after implementation.
The DCEC cited the Economic Stimulus Programme which, although meant to grow the economy and uplift Batswana from poverty, yielded incidents of corruption and poor workmanship. To date, the DCEC is still grappling with cases as some projects were not done, or were completed with defects beyond repair. Currently the DCEC is involved at the Ministry of Education conducting project risk management in the Multiple Path Ways Program at Moeng College and Maun Senior School. This intervention will spread to other sectors of the economy as part of the DCEC’s corruption prevention strategy.
Of recent, the DCEC has been in the media for all the wrong reasons following leakage of high profile cases and allegations claiming that the executive management is at war with each other more particularly with some within the agency harbouring ambitions to dethrone Pilane from the Directorship.
Although the infighting was denied by Pilane’s Office, he acknowledged that leakage of information is a problem across Government and stated that it is a pain at the DCEC. He however stated that Staff has been cautioned against leakage of investigation information and that they have roped in the Botswana Police to assist in investigating incidents of leakage. He further stated that they have increased continuous vetting and lifestyle audits for DCEC employees in order to enforce discipline.
Pilane’s term comes to an end in May 2023 after serving the DCEC for a year on acting basis. It will be in the public interest to see who will be given the baton to continue the anti-corruption journey if Pilane’s contract is not renewed. The DCEC has seen arrival and departure of Director Generals having alternated the top seat five times in less than seven years.