The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) informed the media during a press briefing held at the Mondior Summit on Friday that it had prepared “earnestly” for the upcoming general elections due in October this year.
The secretary of the IEC, Gabriel Seeletso, said that since the last general elections in 2004, the IEC started to prepare for the 2009 elections.
He said an evaluation exercise for the 2004 elections was conducted and recommendations were, thereafter, established in seeking improvement in the electoral process and the legal framework.
Some of the recommendations he mentioned included the amendment of the Electoral Act, which he said led to 15 sections being affected.
Seeletso said that after the last election, the commission intensified civic and voter education through visits to schools, road shows, kgotla meetings and workshops for the various stakeholders.
He said that the commission set itself a target of 650 000 voters at the time of going to the polls in 2009 as a way to measure its performance and education interventions.
Over 723 617 voters were registered, excluding externally registered voters, an 11% excess of its target and also exceeding the 2004 total by close to 31%.
The 2007 General voter registration exercise for the 2009 elections conducted between 2nd and 22nd October registered 347 513 voters. Two thousand two hundred and eighty-eight polling stations across the country were used, along with 26 external polling stations located in countries where Botswana has Embassies or consular Missions.
Seeletso said that the three supplementary registration exercises that followed the 2007 exercise held between August 2008 and June 5 2009 saw 376 104 voters registering.
Of the registered voters, 403 056 are reported to be female, 320 561 male and youth between 18 and 29 years at 243 833 reportedly registered in larger numbers compared to the last election year. The external registration is said to have recorded 1641 voters.
He also mentioned that at the beginning of the year, the commission held over 50 meetings with prospective candidates and their campaign managers to sensitize them on the requirement of the law. The meetings were followed by 6 training workshops conducted for domestic observers to share with them requirements of the law on election observation.
Seeletso also said that recruitment of election officers was started in July 2009 and the final recruitment is expected to be concluded by end of September.
He told the Sunday Standard that material for the production of ballot papers had been secured and that they are ready for production.
“The production of ballot papers will commence after nomination of candidates for inclusion of all political parties and independent candidates’ symbols in respective arrears where they will contest the election.”
On being asked what the commission will do to curb voter trafficking, Seeletso said that it was upon Batswana to report anyone who registers in a constituency not belonging to them. He said that individuals should be responsible and know their stand as to where they should cast their votes.
He said that any person caught cheating would be punished as per the law, adding that they had noticed that much voter trafficking had been noted to happen more during transfers than during registration.
“A lot of people easily lie during transfers. They can easily say they have been transferred to another place and would prefer to cast their vote there, just because they want to vote where they know someone,” he said.
He also said no special requirements had been put in place for the elderly or expectant mothers and will solely rely on Batswana to practice the principle of Botho and the Vision 2016 pillar of “a compassionate and caring nation”.