The leader of Alliance for Progressives Ndaba Gaolathe has called on President Mokgweetsi Masisi to return the Act that introduced the Electronic Voting Machines back to Parliament.
This follows a press release that was recently issued by the Office of the President announcing that EVMs will not be used in the upcoming 2019 General Elections. The release also stated that there would be supplementary registration.
Addressing a press conference, Gaolathe said failure by President Masisi to return the Act to Parliament “in our view promptly will constitute failure by him to uphold, protect, and defend the people’s all-important social contract, the constitution of the Republic of Botswana.”
Gaolathe noted that this process of course applies only where the President refuses to sign a bill.
“We assume that the law in question, the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016 was indeed signed by the (former) President, which is why the press release from the Office of the president refers to it as an Act,” he said.
He said since this an Act of Parliament and cannot be set aside, without going first to Parliament to repeal it.
“If indeed it is the will of government to bring back the old Act and allow voters to use the ballot paper to cast their vote that too is a matter that can only be done by Parliament,” said Gaolathe.
According to him, “We then at AP to do not buy the story that government has used some powers which they do not have to change the import of the law.”
He added that “this government would have actually emerged the much more stronger, had they stated that due to pressure from all sides, they have decided to go back to Parliament to undo to do the mess that they created.” That way, he said, they would have emerged as a government that listens to the petitions of its citizens.
“We call the press release a mere expression of interest by government. The reason being that the law in question was passed by Parliament back in 2016, despite loud protests from ordinary citizens across this country as well as vehement opposition in the House from opposition Members of Parliament,” said Gaolathe.
He added that the bill was passed and signed into law by the former President Ian Khama. The only missing link here is that the government has up to now, not set a commencement date for the Act.