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IEC rubbishes UDC’s rigging claims

Publishing Date : 04 November, 2019

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), has this week not taken kindly to reports that the Commission has, in concert with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP, rigged the just ended 2019 General election.


The main opposition party Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), particularly the affiliate Botswana National Front (BNF), has been decrying and suspecting foul play in the election results on the part of both the BDP and the IEC. The UDC has been insisting that the BDP is sleeping with the IEC, hence raising eyebrows and suspicion that they swayed election results in favour of the ruling BDP.


The misgivings have not been held by the fact that IEC, although presumably independent, is strategically placed under the auspices of the Office of the President (OP).  According to the IEC official information, BDP won with a popular vote of more than 52%, garnering 66% of Member of Parliaments as per the election system of First Past the Post (FPTP).


In most parts of the South, the ruling party won with the widest margins (almost double in many areas), something which has never been experienced in the country in recent intervals. The results have led to talks of a looming court case that will be brought forth by the UDC against the IEC protesting the election outcome as “doubtful.” Speaking to Weekend Post this week, IEC Principal Public Relations Officer (PRO) Osupile Maroba, dismissed the rigging allegations citing that they are impossible and laughable.


“I confirm that elections went very well. The elections, like those that came before, have never been rigged and are not rigged, and therefore are very credible as the law was followed to the letter,” he insisted to this publication. He maintained that the elections were very credible and in accordance with provisions of the Electoral law.


According to Maroba, people never complained from the beginning of the electoral cycle/process as they gave the polling agents the voters roll, to check whether names are written correctly on the roll, whether the numbers tally, to check any voter trafficking suspicion and so forth and they were satisfied with the voters roll hence no complaints were registered. “Everything went in terms of the Electoral Act. It was applied to the core, we are a non-partisan institution. We only implement law as is, simple.” the IEC official maintained.


In terms of the looming court case, Maroba said the IEC remains ready to defend the case and that the party, UDC in particular, are within their rights to do so as law allows them to request for remedy at court on the elections. 
“They have the right to do so. The High Court will mediate us,” he insisted. He therefore dismissed the much talked about Gantsi North rigging case, in which the former area legislator has approach court to protest the results saying they were rigged as there are fears some boxes were not counted.


“I don’t know how the truck from Gantsi with ballot boxes is special or different from the rest of others. I don’t know how this one is peculiar to the other. Procedure was dully followed and nothing is out of line.  Every Returning Officer delivers it to the High Court. And this was the case,” he highlighted. In terms of the law, the IEC mouthpiece cited sections 71, 72 and 73 of the Electoral Act which explains the process of election, and that after counting at elections, ballot boxes are sealed and delivered to the High Court.


“Returning officer can’t count votes without all the boxes being delivered. They know all the wards and boxes and only counts the ballots in front of the polling agents. All the time there are party representatives at polling stations and counting centre,” he explained.He added that the ballot boxes then are sealed in front of the party agents and they don’t let their eyes off the counting process while stressing that the government car also should be followed from polling stations to the counting centres if parties wish to and that polling agents can ride in or follow the car, as it is allowed by law to allay fears of any suspicion of rigging.


Maroba pointed out that after every elections, the IEC always has allegations of election rigging but they haven’t escalated to this level: “why I don’t know.” It’s a normal issue after the elections, he said adding that the “BDP has also accused us of rigging in the past.” Maroba denied that they are sleeping with BDP, as some want to allege and that it is a perception which does not hold water.


He observed that the parties only challenge the election results when they feel disadvantaged or having lost like the UDC, in this case. “BDP clearly has a landslide victory because we are dealing with different people with different minds and voters can promise to elect candidates or parties but end up voting the others, which is why probably we are in this state,” he concluded.  

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