Monday, October 19, 2020

BCP petitions Khama over electronic voting machines

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) said Monday that it intends to write President Ian Khama requesting him not to give his assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill. The bill will pave way for a law introducing the electronic voting machine, should Khama appendix his signature. 

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, BCP President Dumelang Saleshando said they intend to write a letter to President Khama requesting him not to sign the Bill into law pending further consultation with Batswana and other stakeholders. Saleshando said they have reservations about the Bill citing procedural shortcomings in the Bill’s passage after it was tabled on certificate of urgency. 

“We are going to write to President Khama not to assent into law the just passed electoral bill,” he said. 

He said unlike other bills which are published in the Government Gazette for 30 days to allow members of the public to scrutinise them, make informed opinions and come up with suggestions that was not the case with the Electoral Amendment Bill. 

Saleshando reads a sinister motive behind government’s decision to table the Bill on a certificate of urgency. 

“I think there is something which prompted them to bring the Bill this way fearing that if they delay, their plans could be derailed,” he said. 

Saleshando said, there is nothing that warrants the Bill to have been tabled on a certificate of urgency. 

According to Saleshando a number of stakeholders were not taken on board when the Bill was mooted. He cited the All Party Conference where weighty matters and issues of national interested are normally discussed adding that the bill should have been discussed there. 

Saleshando said only a handful of countries across the world have adopted the electronic voting machine because it has proven that it brings with it challenges as far as the voting process is concerned. He reiterated that proper public consultation on the Bill had also been lacking despite the fact that the bill touches on issues of national importance.

“If we do not have meaningful consultations we are likely to bring the electoral process into doubt,” he said.

 Saleshando also expressed concern that the Bill has taken away the rights of voters. Should the bill become a law, he said, a number of voters will be disenfranchised because it abolishes supplementary registration. 

“As it is we, don’t know the reason why there should be no supplementary registration when this Bill becomes law,” he said. 

The BCP President also took issue with the increase of fees for aspirant councillors and parliamentarians saying the registration fees have been hiked from P100 to P1000 and from P500 to P5000 respectively. 

It has since emerged that the Bill in its current form is inconsistent with the Botswana Constitution. Legal sources claim that in order for the bill to be adopted the Constitution should be amended first. 

Saleshando confirmed that they have requested their lawyers to study the bill and give them feedback. “Should they advise us that the Bill is inconsistence with the Constitution we will approach the courts,” said Saleshando. He said they also intend to mobilise other political parties and NGOs over the bill as part of their aim to sensitize the nation. 

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