Thursday, October 28, 2021

EVMs potential to contaminate Botswana’s political discourse remains underestimated

In Botswana General Elections have largely been free but by no stretch fair.

The narrative that there is no state funding of political parties is a fallacy.

The ruling party, as even some of its activists have to their dismay been recently discovering has access to inequitable state resources that are a preserve of a few within its inner orbit.

Those resources unfortunately are deployed not only against the enemy camps but even for internal cannibalism practices.

While the opposition has over the years accused the ruling party of using underhand tactics of incumbency to win elections, no authoritative and evidence of elaborate election rigging was ever adduced to incriminate the ruling party beyond doubt of conniving to manipulate election results on a national scale.

But the introduction of Electronic Voting Machine is a game changer.

For the first time we hear people from across the political divide expressing apprehensions that EVMs will be used to subvert democracy and with that the will of the people.

This is an altogether new narrative in our political discourse never to be made light of.

Government and more recently some segments of the ruling party have been falsely and in some instances wickedly trying to pitch EVMs as a technological advancement.

Their cheerleader is Gabriel Seeletso ÔÇô a distinguished public servant willing to soil reputation, integrity and credibility in exchange for consultancy fees he gets from marketing EVMs.

Their fraudulent claim of love for progress allows them to hit a pose as descent people with genuine concern for their country. It’s all unvarnished ruse, hypocrisy at its worst!

EVMs will in the end contaminate our politics, that is for certain. The only mystery is to what extent.

There is something innately distasteful about political leaders who participate in the fermentation of anarchy and with straight faces call their adventures progress.

For a Government run men with big egos, immense self-regard and a governing party steeped in self-praise and image making, the shallowness of their justification of EVMs has been nothing short of self-caricature.

There can be only one genuine reason for it. And a base one at that; self-preservation.

Given that their continued existence somehow rests on EVMs, it has been shocking that they have failed to answer even some of the most elementary questions: with under a million voters why does Botswana need EVMs when countries with vastly greater number of voters have stuck to the safety offered by the traditional route? Why is there no paper trail?

The brash and abrasive preparedness by this Government to go ahead full steam with EVMs in the face of such pervasive opposition, including from their members offers a crude foretaste of how far down the tube we have gone as a nation when it comes to disregarding popular public opinion.

Their unremitting resolve to bring to our shores an innovation so much discredited in many parts of the world does don’t only break public trust, it also emboldens the thugs in our intelligence services now running a shadow state.

These are the people who the opposition, not without merit believes will be the real organizing force behind an electoral process ultimately to be manipulated using EVMs.

Against all evidence, the IEC, or their consultants have even lied by saying that the machines are foul-proof and cannot be hacked or manipulated.

The IEC and indeed their consultants, together with their handlers are best advised that a guaranteed integrity of elections is a bulwark against political violence.

Government and ruling party’s casual views on the integrity of elections matter a great deal.

On Friday morning the Supreme Court in Kenya nullified the results of recent presidential elections in that country.

The court ordered that fresh elections be held in two months.

Given that people died before and after the recent elections, it is a foregone conclusion that a fresh wave of more deaths will be accompanying the oncoming round of elections as ordered by the Supreme Court.

Kenyan electoral violence is a result of a combination of multiple reasons, tribalism chief among them, but also a unique failure by that country to guarantee integrity of elections.

Unlike the situation in Kenya, the effects of EVMs on Botswana’s processes are at least for the foreseeable future reversible.

Kenya’s electoral processes are fought along tribal lines (one commentator referred to last month’s elections as a tribal census). But militias have become too entrenched and to a certain way accepted.

In Botswana we are not there yet, but the process towards it has started.

At a recent congress in Tonota, the governing Botswana Democratic Party factions skillfully deployed rented delegates ÔÇô many of them dirty faced young thugs that before then had not attended a single party meeting.

These young people had been given money, air time, food, alcohol, free accommodation and instructions of how to vote. They had also received tutorials on how to chant slogans, including how to shout down the opposing sides.

That is the beginning of anarchism in our politics.

In Bobonong, a Botswana Movement for Democracy faction went a notch up in the use of the thugs to throw stones at innocent and genuine party members.

We are not Kenya yet. But we are truly on that path.

And our guiding star to that point of self-immolation is the EVM invention.

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