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EVMs to be used in 2019 general elections

After several exchanges of letters between the Government of Botswana and the Botswana Congress party (BCP) in connection with the legality of using the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the next general elections, government still insists BCP is just confused and that the machine is valid – because it is temper proof.

President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama had last year signed into law the Electoral Bill which seeks to introduce electronic voting through EVMs. BCP then took the matter before Francistown Judge Lot Moroka. They filed an application which granted them permission to bring an expert who can prove that EVMs are gadgets that can be easily tampered with.

In December, BCP Secretary General, Kentse Rammidi wrote a declaration to the effect that the matter is of a technical nature as it involves the subject of EVMs which is based on computer technology. He said they therefore endeavor to call an expert in the field.

“EVM are programmable devices which can be programmed with malicious coded viruses such as trogon horses and time bombs, and susceptible to hacking, and therefore would violate the voters and our constitutional rights to efficient, proper, free and fair elections which is a coronary to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual right guaranteed by Section 12, 13 and 67 of the Constitution,” stated Rammidi in his declaration.

WeekendPost   is in possession of a recent affidavit by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Government and Public Administration Eric Molale dismissing Rammidi’s claims and asserting that the machine is authentic. Molale was confirming the averments by an expert in India currently working as an Information Technology Consult and a software Developer for Immortal Solutions, Anjali Sharma. In her affidavit in support of the government, the expert stated that the Indian EVM is a stand-alone, non-networked based machine.

“It is a one-timer programmable machine which is not computer controlled or connected to the internet. At no point does the EVM receive signals from outside either by wireless, Bluetooth, WI-FI, or any other internet based medium, as the control unit does not have any radio frequency receiver or data decoder,” sated the expert. “Furthermore, the software used is burnt into a one-time chip to avoid alteration or physical tempering.” It is further the expert’s contention that the Indian EVM is temper proof and cannot be hacked.

Confirming the expert’s contention, Molale sated in his affidavit that, “I confirm the correctness of the averments of Sharma and fully associate myself with the contents therein,” said Molale and continued that, “I deny each and every material allegation contained in the affidavit of Rammidi and put him to the strictest proof thereof. BCP’s action is without merit and should be dismissed with cost.” In the last communiqué from the parties dated December 19, BCP wrote back demanding better statements and further particulars of the said manufacturers of the machine in India.

In the last Parliamentary seating the government passed the law that introduced Voter Verified Audit Paper Trail (VV PAT). This means there has to be receipts and or papers when voting, which receipts can be used in cases one protests the outcome. The receipts would be taken and counted physically to see if they tally with numbers on the machine. This means, should the government win the case and continue with the use of the machine next year, they will have to now add the purchase of the VV PAT as they had not included it in the initial budget.

The cost of all the 2000 machines that are expected to be used nationwide is P100 million. Botswana will need a total of 2000 machines to cover all constituencies as each machine can accept about 500 votes. Meanwhile, WeekendPost is also alive to reports that the intention of the government was to test the machine in question in the Moshupa-Manyana bye-election. Sources close to the case also suggest that government is worried at the pace the case is moving with.

Should the case drag for a long time, it will be impossible for the purchase and use of machines as government still have to educate people on using it. While the case is still dragging before the court with several exchange of letters, the IEC has set September 03 to November 11 as registration period.

Government is represented by Deputy Government Attorney Matlhogonolo Phuthego while BCP is represented by Gabriel Komboni.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

20th March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

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BOCRA detects new cyber attacks targeted at Botswana

20th March 2023

Government owned communications regulator, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) recently detected several cyber-attacks targeted at national information and communications infrastructure, companies and home routers in this country.

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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP

17th March 2023

As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.

Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.

Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.

He made a special appeal to the PAP:  “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”

Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”

According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.

As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.

The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.

Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.

Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.

He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.

“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.

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