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Gov’t finally dumps bothersome EVMs

President Mokgweetsi Masisi administration has announced this week the reversal of the decision to introduce the controversial Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) following court battles and resistance from the populace.  

Ever since Masisi ascended to the presidency, government had hinted at the possibility of doing away with EVM, a move which was finally enacted this week through a communique from Office of the President. Since 2016 the issue surrounding the use and procurement of the controversial EVMs has been very topical. The debacle and the suspicions involving the use of EVMs by the ruling government was perceived as a move to rig the 2019 general elections.

It was believed that, following the 2014 general election, in which ruling Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) fortunes plummeted, the ruling party had fears that it would lose the 2019 general elections. In a statement that announced the decision government contended that the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016 introduced amendments in order to improve efficiency in the electoral process. The 2016 Act introduced changes including electronic voting, abolition of supplementary registration, increased nomination fees and fines, amongst others.  

The 2016 Act makes provision for Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which are machines or apparatus whether or not operated electronically, used for the giving and recording of votes. The Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016 was passed by Parliament in 2016 but has not been brought into operation.  On 1st December 2017, Government published the Electoral (Amendment) Bill of 2017 which proposed to repeal and replace the 2016 Act while at the same time introducing Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail. The Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was not tabled in Parliament.

Government has concluded that since the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016 is not in operation, the 2019 General Elections will be conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act [Cap. 02:09], which does not provide for the use of EVMs, nor prohibits supplementary registration.

The introduction of Act was vehemently opposed by Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which had taken the matter to court arguing through its lawyers argued that the Electoral Act as amended to introduce EVMs for voting is unconstitutional. BCP also argued that the court should declare that EVMs violate the fundamental democratic principles of transparency and openness which are a pre- requisite for elections.  

The BCP further argued that EVMs can be tampered with and therefore unsafe to be used for choosing a government. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has on the 23rd March 2017 delivered a notice to abide by the decision of the Court indicating that the IEC shall not oppose the court case and will do as directed by the Court.  

The cost of all the 2000 machines that were expected to be used nationwide was P100 million. Given the dynamics Botswana would need a total of 2000 machines to cover all constituencies as each machine can accept about 500 votes.
The former Secretary of the IEC Gabriel Seeletso who now serve as a consultant led the IEC’s EVM Unit on a nationwide tour, addressing 490 ward meetings and 57 constituency meetings during which he educated the public and stakeholders about the EVM. The campaign cost the IEC P150 million.

The BCP also issued a statement which welcomed the move by government to abandon the EVMs. “We are not surprised by the pronouncement because both the Minister in the Presidency and the Vice President have in the recent past mooted the idea of abandoning the use of EVM”. BCP Spokesperson Dithapelo Keorapetse said however, for BCP, the matter remains live before Justice Lot Moroka at Francistown High Court.

“We can’t rely on a press release what if it’s withdrawn. We will seek a consent order to the effect that for 2019, general elections they’ll be no EVM and they’ll be supplementary voter registration. There has to be a legal instrument that binds the government. It is up to the government to legally bind itself to what Batswana want, which is no use of EVMs for 2019 and reinstatement of supplementary election registration. We are waiting for them to approach us before trial dates or we will meet at court on the dates set for trial whereat they’ll properly inform the judge of their decision”.

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Tsogwane takes over BDP Congress preps

17th May 2022
Tsogwane

Slumber Tsogwane, the chairman of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), has effectively ursurped Mpho Balopi’s functions of secretary general. He has also taken over the preparations for the party’s national congress, which is scheduled to be held in August.

The role of the secretary general is to oversee the activities of the party, and according to its constitution, he or she is the accounting officer. Throughout his career, Balopi has been the link between the various structures of the party, including the central committee and sub committees. However, since he has been replaced by Tsogwane, Balopi has become an onlooker.

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Why Katholo engaged private lawyers against State

16th May 2022
Katlholo

The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.

In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.

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Dada to break Kwelagobe’s BDP long standing record

16th May 2022
Dada

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.

While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.

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