Tuesday, October 26, 2021

IEC left to carry the can as political parties disown EVMs

The Independent Electoral Commission has been left alone to carry the can as questions intensify on the efficacy of the machines.

As questions surrounding Electronic Voting Machines  get more pointed the issue of just who first came up came up with the idea is beginning to gain traction.

And the IEC has been left naked with no one defending them.

Government has been the first to say the idea did not originate with them.

The latest to follow suit has been ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Both point an accusing at finger the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

For its part the IEC is pointing an accusing finger at parliament.

The Bill to introduce was brought by minister for presidential affairs, Eric Molale.

The situation has not been helped by the fact that he brought the law under certificate of urgency, a special dispensation that should only be used under the rarest of circumstances.

That on itself attracted attention.

Speaking at a Panel Discussion to reflect on political and practical issues involving the EVMs last Friday, BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane said the BDP did not initiate the EVMs.

“We recognise that the passage of this Bill into a law was a bit controversial. Perhaps things could have been done differently. The elections are three years away. Was there need to rush the bill really? I am not so sure because I do not sit  Parliament anymore. I do not know the consideration of the Minister and the IEC to have done that,” said Ntuane.

He said it was unfortunate that the IEC is not part of the panel discussions to explain the issues around the introduction of the EVM.

“I can confidently tell you that the BDP did not initiate the EVM. During the BDP National Council we invited the IEC to come and make presentations about these EVMs and they did come. Delegates asked questions about the EVMs and the President of the party and the country on record stated to the delegates that the BDP did not initiate the EVM,” said Ntuane.

Ntuane explained that what happened is that  the IEC came to the executive with the idea of EVMs and gave their reasons. Some of the major reason was that the EVMs will quicken the voting process.

“And as the executive we thought probably they have a point and we took on board their views. That is when the Minister responsible took the Bill to Parliament and was later passed into a law,” said Ntuane.

There has been some heated debates around the issue.

At that National Council meeting, the BDP came up with a resolution around the EVM, said Ntuane.

“In principle we have no objection to the EVMs. However changes that can cause fears of voters must be reduced if we are to move forward,” said Ntuane.

The BDP Secretary General said his party is still going to discuss the issue during the party congress this July in Tonota.

“We have this issue in our agenda during our July national congress. We requested the IEC to bring these machines at our national congress so that we have a touch and feel experience. We remain open minded. We are flexible and we are listening to what has been said by Batswana. We will make our position clear on the EVMs after the July congress,” said Ntuane.

Ntuane emphasized that the BDP did not initiate the EVMs.

This comes in the wake of accusations that EVMs were the brainchild of the BDP.

He said not at any single forum of the BDP was the idea of EVMs ever pitched.

“It is up to the IEC to decide whether or not to withdraw these machines because they are the ones who initiated it,” said Ntuane.

On the other hand IEC EVM coordinator Gabriel Seeletso says the EVM was never IEC idea. According to Seeletso the IEC is only implementing the law that was passed by parliament.

“Members of Parliament are responsible to make laws, not the IEC. The IEC can never change laws, we are only implementing what was passed by Parliament,” said Seeletso.

 Opposition has for a long time held that EVMs are part of a grand scheme by the intelligence services to rig elections in favour of the BDP.

Senior intelligence officers, who have been accused of grand corruption have a vested interested to see the BDP remain in power as part of their protection guarantees.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper