Friday, December 4, 2020

IEC Chief parries accusations that he is not independent enough

Secretary of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Gabriel Seeletso, has dismissed reports that his commission is not independent.

Responding to queries by the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who questioned IEC’s independence in demarcating polling wards, Seeletso said, independent is a relative term.

“For that reason, we can only advise those who have difficulty with the extent to which the IEC is independent to approach the courts of competent jurisdiction for an informed interpretation of its constitutional context and meaning.”

Seeletso said while section 5 of the Electoral Act calls on the secretary to the IEC to divide polling districts, it does not preclude the IEC or its secretary from consulting any authority whose operation would be affected by actions of the IEC.

“The number of polling districts in the country translates into number of Councillors that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has to support for the next ten years. The ministry has to ensure that it has a budget to pay the councillors’ allowances and that it also has adequate and befitting chambers where the honourable councillors can transact their business as expected by the general public and sundry.”

He said before he can proceed in terms of section 5 of the Electoral Act, he has to establish that the number of councillors across the country would not be an unnecessary burden to the taxpayer thus causing the relevant ministry to scale down councillors allowances to remain within the affordable budgetary ceiling.

“We want to go on record that; yes, we consulted the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to ascertain and appreciate what number of councillors they, on behalf of the taxpayer, would be comfortable with. We further want to go on record that the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development was not party to the alignment of polling district boundaries nor was he party to the delimitation of polling districts per constituency.”

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