Saturday, October 23, 2021

Parliamentary system rigged to push through electronic voting

Member of Parliament for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi alerted Parliament last week of an alleged clandestine plot between Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe and Cabinet ministers Eric Molale and Prince Maele to railroad Parliament into passing the controversial Electoral Amendment Bill.

The latest revelations have stoked speculations that government rigged the parliament debate system to push through the bill which will usher in electronic voting.

Standing on a point of order, Mmolotsi raised the alarm: “Madam Speaker I am a worried person. I noticed the letter communications between yourself, Minister Molale and Maele….that you point him to debate over this Bill and later truncate the Bill.”

Speaker of National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe denied the communication as did the Minister of Lands and Housing Maele who by then was on the floor debating the Electoral Bill.

“I never communicated anything with anyone Madam Speaker …but if the honourable Member wants me to truncate the debate because he reminded me I will,” Maele replied, continuing with the debate all the same.

Just as Mmolotsi had forewarned, Maele shortened the debate and moved the Bill to the Speaker who then moved the Bill to the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Molale to respond and pass through Parliament as directed by the Parliamentary Standing Orders.

As a result the Electoral Bill was railroaded through parliament with the help of the numerically strong Botswana Democratic Party MPs, closing out some opposition MP’s from debating the Bill.

The bill has been a lightning rod of controversy since the Presidential Affairs Minister tabled it on a certificate of urgency much to the chagrin of opposition MPs who questioned why it was being hurried through parliament.

A number of bills had to be put on ice to make way for the bill which sought to introduce new technology in the form of electronic voting machines.  The move to proceed with the bill as a matter of urgency ended with a vote on the floor of parliament. Twenty-one Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs voted for the bill to proceed while 12 opposition MPs voted against the bill’s urgency.

Apparently tipped off that opposition MP’s would do anything including collapsing the quorum to stop the bill, Kokorwe, Molale and Maele allegedly connived to invoke the standing orders last week to truncate the Bill.

Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that Cabinet had agreed on Electronic Voting Machines and government had started the process of procuring the new technology even before the electoral Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper