A Gaborone South legislator has suggested to parliament to consider amending the Electoral Act and imposing stiffer penalties against voter traffickers.
Kagiso Molatlhegi, MP for Gaborone South, made the remark this week while making a contribution on the budget request for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
He urged the IEC to device means of curbing voter trafficking and expressed serious concern over the issue, adding that, in some instances, politicians were fetching voters from rural areas and facilitating for these people to register and cast their vote in towns.
Molatlhegi said that only a stiff penalty could reduce the rampant culture of voter trafficking
“The penalty should be stiff, they should even be sent to jail,” he said.
He also suggested for government to consider scrapping external voting polls, adding that a close look at the numbers reveal that many Batswana who live outside the country are not voting.
“We spend millions but people don’t turn up,” he argued.
Molatlhegi said that it would be prudent for government to give external voters a last chance in 2014, adding that if there is still voter apathy then government should close shop and scrap external polls.
The legislator also suggested some reforms. He queried the way in which the IEC packages the ballot paper, adding that the paper could be redesigned to include some pictures for the different candidates vying for political office.
He stated that introducing a picture on the ballot paper could even help reduce the number of spoiled votes, adding that with a name scribbled along a picture voters would be able to accurately mark an individual they intend to vote.
Molatlhegi also condemned the IEC’s voter registration system, which he says often causes inconvenience for those not residing near their polling area as, during registration, many working far away from home are forced to commute from where they work just to come and register. He urged the IEC to consider introducing an Electronic voter registration system to allow those residing far away from their polling area to register without necessarily traveling to their respective constituencies.
“They should introduce an electronic registration system to make it easy for those who reside afar to register,” he said.
Also contributing to the debate, Leader of the Opposition, Botsalo Ntuane, implored government to urgently consider funding of political parties. He said, as it stands, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is the only beneficiary.
Ntuane said that as it stands opposition politician cannot, for instance, afford fuel to enable them to campaign, adding that in sharp contrast, President Ian Khama uses government aircraft to campaign for BDP.
He said that ministers also use government vehicles to campaign for the BDP stating that it is clear that the BDP will always have the upper hand because it has resources.
Ntuane also urged the ruling party to openly declare that it will step down from government if it is voted out of power in 2014.
“Will you relinquish power? You must declare to this nation that you will do so when the time comes,” he said.
He said that he is worried that despite claiming to be standing for democratic principles, the BDP could refuse to step down from power if voted out. He argued therefore that the party needs to declare to the nation that it would accept the results if elected out of office.