The aftermath of the national elections scheduled for Friday may turn into an array of court battles should the opposition parties lose key targeted parliamentary seats following the unprecedented blunder by the electoral body.
The Independent Electoral Commission belatedly detected glaring mistakes in the ballot papers as the public officers, especially police officers, attempted to cast their special vote before everybody else prompting the electoral body to unilaterally postpone their voting date to run in tandem with the regular voters.
Traditionally, selected officers are scheduled to cast their vote ahead of everybody else because they would be manning the elections but they got the shock of their lives on September 29 as the electoral body diverted their vote to October 16, citing mistakes in the ballot papers – a development which sparked controversy amongst the opposition parties with the latest rant emanating from Botswana National Front parliamentary candidate for Gaborone South, Akanyang Magama.
In an interview with The Telegraph Monday, Magama joined the bandwagon of opposition candidates suspicious of the incident, arguing that the blunder by the IEC to disenfranchise thousands of public officers was a conspiracy by the institution in cohorts with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party to disadvantage their rivals.
“The recent blunder by IEC resulting in the disenfranchisement of more than 30 000 Batswana calls for a full enquiry resulting in appropriate action being taken against those who committed this blunder. Complete silence on the part of the BDP government may mean that there was collusion between the BDP and the IEC because the party is aware of the fact that public officers are disillusioned and will therefore vote for the opposition,” he said.
Having entered the fray in the constituency rather late following his protracted court battles with the party leadership, the former BNF secretary general is unhappy with these deliberate motives, which he says have the potential to hamper his chances of re-gaining the constituency, particularly more so that Gaborone South also shelters public officers, including police officers who would be expected to vote and man polling stations at the same time.
Magama insists that the IEC chief, Gabriel Seeletso, should be shown the door, particularly since he allegedly lied about the IEC’s preparedness.
“All along he (Seeletso) has been telling us everything is going smoothly only to embarrass the nation at the eleventh hour. This is not tolerable and he should be booted out of the office,” Magama fumed.
Magama joins other opposition candidates who have explicitly expressed their displeasure at the gaffe committed by the IEC with the Botswana Congress Party publicity secretary, Dumelang Saleshando, threatening to approach the courts to halt polls should the Commissioner of Police, Thebeyame Tsimako, fail to make an undertaking that the police officers be allowed to vote on October 16 as promised by the IEC.
Magama will be remembered for lobbying in favour of the direct election of the president and the cancellation of the automatic succession.