Connect with us
Advertisement

Govt 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”.

Continue Reading

News

People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

Continue Reading

News

Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

Continue Reading

News

Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

Continue Reading