Women rights activist and Tatitown Customary Court President Margaret Mosojane last week urged the Independent Electoral Commission to engage in consultation with stakeholders, and strengthen oversight checks and balances during the electoral process so that Botswana’s participatory democracy remains sustainable.
Speaking during a workshop organized for local observers in Francistown, Mosojane commended the IEC for successfully facilitating the voter registration process, but called for more consultation with major stakeholders to ascertain and validate the voters rolls so that the impending elections would be credible.
She added that while Botswana has always enjoyed free and fair elections there is a need to further strengthen the oversight checks and balance mechanisms, which are crucial for the sustainability of a participatory democracy.
“You will agree with me that democracy will not function well in a society that disengages from electoral processes and politics; whether by not voting or remaining silent,” she said.
Mosojane pointed out that dialogue, transparency and continuous consultation are crucial in ensuring that those given the responsibility of managing the electoral system remain accountable.
“Observation of the electoral process is a fundamental factor of democratic gate keeping,” she said.
She further told observers that the objective is not to prescribe to them what to do and what not to do, but rather to empower them with skills so that they can be able to better carry out their duties.
“You should perceive electoral observation as an independent judgment of a process that produces an independent conclusion. The objective here is to provide an opportunity for capacity building within both the civil organizations and the local structures, which IEC will use as conduits for its outreach programs,” she said.
She commended the workshop participants for having found the courage to stand up to be counted as soldiers who nurture and defend the noble idea of democracy, which has helped Botswana to shine as a beacon of democracy in the midst of divisive regimes in the region and the continent.
“Observation of elections is a norm in all democracies because it allows custodians to examine the rules of the game and to ascertain credibility and fairness during elections. I must urge local observers to participate in large numbers and learn from their more experienced counterparts from the international fraternity, as well as assist in providing a credible report on the elections as they are more acquainted with the local electoral process,” she said.