Monday, October 25, 2021

BCP struggling to get expert witness in EVM case because of costs

The State is using its financial muscle to thwart law suit by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the controversial Electronic Voting Machines case. The Independent Electoral Commission intends to  buy the machines from Indian based Bharat Electronics (PTY) LTD.

In court papers, BCP admits that it is cash-strapped and cannot afford to an expert opinion to look into the purchase of the Electronic Voting Machines as evidenced by the party’s failure to file its application on time before the High Court.

The party’s secretary general Kentse Rammidi, states in an affidavit   before Justice Lot Moroka that it is not possible for BCP to secure expert advice and opinion within a limited time based on the rules of the court due to financial constraints.

He said the matter involves the identification of competent experts, seeking their consent to give expert opinion and advice which    will be used in evidence. It also involves seeking meetings with the experts in order to lay down the problem at hand and what solutions are required.

All these, said Rammidi, were very impossible within a limited time given adding that this is further complicated by the fact that the party has very limited resources due to the fact that the state does not fund political parties.

He further reveals that the predicament faced by the party is only helped by party member’s donations and those holding elected office through the party saying besides that the party cannot survive.

Rammidi said one of the reasons why they filed their papers late is because they are still struggling to source some money to hire an expert who will help to prove that the Electronic Voting Machines are susceptible to hacking.

“The expert we are looking for will be able to hack or disrupt and compromise the secure performance of the EVM’s,” said Rammidi.

BCP’s contention is that the EVMs are susceptible to hacking and therefore would violate voters’ constitutional right to efficient, proper, free and fair election. The party says the issue of the security and hacking of the EVM’s is a real and live matter which is to be addressed by the party and asked the court to give them more time to file their application.

For his part, Acting Attorney General Morulaganyi Chamme strongly opposes the notice of motion for condonation of late filling of declaration arguing that BCP is deliberately wasting court process by failing to comply with the mandatory rules of the High Court.

He said BCP has failed to follow the proper court procedure because it proceeded by application for condonation though fully aware that it in terms of Order 24 Rule 2 (b) (i) of the Rules of the High Court a declaration must be accompanied by affidavits of facts.

The State accuses the BCP of failing to bring credible and admissible evidence that the Electronic Voting Machines are susceptible to hacking.

“These are just bare unsubstantiated allegations by BCP because the machines would enhance the voters and BCP constitutional right to efficient, free and fair elections and there will be no room for spoilt votes as was the case with the paper ballots,” said Chamme.

The State further accuses the BCP of delaying the purchase of the EVM’s for reasons known to them.

 “This situation is worse because the party has failed to secure expert opinion before it commences its action and not to attempt to create a cause of action as the case progresses. The party has not attached any supporting affidavits of the officials it alleges have been trying their best to obtain the required expert opinion which would be necessary for the BCP to further pursue the matter,” said Chamme.

He added that “Failure by the party to state the officials, what they do and failure to secure them is an indicative fact that its claims are baseless and lack causes of action.”

Chamme said the party could have launched the action only after it had gathered all the relevant and necessary evidence and not to experiment as the case goes on.

“That is unpardonable abuse of the court process and we will not entertain it for its bankruptcy to secure expect opinion,” said Chamme.

Chamme said BCP should stop blaming political funding as an obstacle arguing that there is no law yet which allows for funding of political parties.

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