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Electronic Voting: IEC ready to implement the law

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Secretary, Gabriel Seeletso has said that the Commission is only executing its mandate by implementing electronic voting. The IEC Chief says they are not responsible for the new electoral amendments, instead those with questions should direct them to the law making body- parliament.

IEC has been heavily criticised for failing to consult the nation on the electoral reforms, brought about by the new amendments passed by Parliament. But Seeletso has maintained that it was only proper for him to do consultation after the bill was turned into law because the changes were brought about by parliament and not the IEC.

“IEC would not have conducted consultation about the machines because it was not a law yet. It is only now, when the bill has become a law that we will engage citizens about the changes because we’re compelled to do so by the Act,” he said in a press conference this week.    

The introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), as made into law by the amended Electoral Act, will cost the Commission an additional P150 million.

The Electoral amendment bill, which was passed by the National Assembly during the closing day of the 3rd meeting of the 2nd Session of Parliament, has been signed into law by President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama.

Seeletso told the media that, as a result of the new law, IEC will execute its mandate as required by the law, and will embark on a countrywide public education campaign, which will cost the commission P150 million. IEC is scheduled to address 490 ward meetings, and 57 constituency meetings countrywide.

The electoral reforms come in the back of deliberations at the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), at which key resolutions were reached, including cancellation of supplementary registration. BDP had diagnosed supplementary registration as one of the factors which contributed towards the party’s dismal performance in the last general election.

According to BDP, the abolishment of supplementary registration will also bring to an end trafficking of voters which has been prevalent among candidates during election campaigns.

Seeletso has downplayed the gravity of the decision to abolish supplementary registration as he contended that the new development will mean that, stakeholders have to intensify public education in an effort to change people’s mindset.

“As IEC our duty is to do what the Act says we should do. We do not make laws, but if there is a new law, we have to do as it says,” said Seeletso.

Seeletso has however not disputed nor confirmed that the executive is compromising the integrity of the elections body, by introducing reforms that only serves its interest, as he noted that “there is nothing he can do about it since the changes were done by parliament and IEC only offers recommendations, which can be rejected or approved.”

Ahead of the 2014 general election, the initial registration known as the general registration attracted only 487 000 of the P1.4 million who were eligible to vote.  Subsequent to the two supplementary registration periods, the number rose to 824 432.

There are fears that the new law will create a crisis in which many people eligible to vote will be disenfranchised. IEC has previously complained of voter apathy in Botswana, which has not improved over the years.  Since the introduction of the IEC ahead of 1999 General Elections, it has had to conduct more than two registration periods to attract an acceptable number of people to participate in the general elections.

Seeletso has also revealed that part of the reforms introduced by the amendment of the bill is the extension of the Secretary’s duties to include the promotion of civic and voter education. This, however, IEC has been doing but without legal backing. 

Seeletso revealed the kind of machine which the IEC is looking for, as he noted that, because of elections’ sensitivity the IEC will be looking to maintain credibility in the elections.

“We are looking for machines which are not computer and network based, machines which are water resistant, can be able to withstand various weather conditions and are easy to use,” he said.

Seeletso said the machines which they are looking for will also not require electricity to function since the machine will be battery powered. The machine could also be used across the country including places without power from the national grid.

“The battery is envisaged to last for 20 hours of continuous use; it must be reliable, simple to use or user friendly, secure and meet Botswana’s adverse geographical conditions,” he said.

The IEC boss further noted that some procedures will remain the same, despite the introduction of electronic voting.

“The voters roll as we know it will continue to be used. The EMV therefore will only replace the conventional voting from the point of issuance of the ballot paper to depositing it into the ballot box while other activities of voting process will remain unchanged,” he noted.

Meanwhile Seeletso also expressed that IEC met with political parties to brief them about the new development, and the opposition is now happy about it. However Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are preparing a legal bid against President Lt Gen Ian Khama for assenting and signing the bill into law.

Seeletso also informed the media that, the IEC will go on benchmarking missions to countries which are currently using the electronic voting machine as well as those who previously used the machined but reneged afterwards.

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Gov’t shy to shame failing ministers

22nd February 2021
Morwaeng

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.

Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.

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Bokamoso, Gov’t in P10M womb removal suit

22nd February 2021
Bokamoso

Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.

The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.

According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.

Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead.
According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.

“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.

The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.

The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.

Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.

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Masisi warned against a sinking Botswana

22nd February 2021
Ndaba GAolatlhe

The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.

Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty.  “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.

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