You may have thought that the EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) saga was behind us — not yet. Heated political debates have erupted in the southern African country of Botswana over using EVMs imported from India. The ruling party, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), passed some amendments to the electoral laws which allowed the use of EVMs. The opposition party, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), has moved court against BDP claiming that the EVMs were imported to get a favourable result for BDP. The BDP has asked for a deposition from the Election Commission of India (ECI) even though the Botswana Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) agreed that the EVMs would speed up the electoral process.
Botswana, the vast but sparsely populated diamond rich country, has been consistently hailed as a bastion of democracy, holding free elections since independence in 1966. Only recently, the country witnessed a bloodless, smooth transfer of power for the fifth time, with former army general, Ian Khama handing over power to his deputy, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who becomes Botswana’s fifth President. But as Botswana prepares for its 12th election in 2019, the media landscape has been dominated by a new elephant in the room, the electronic voting machines (EVM). This will be the first time since the first election in 1965, Botswana introduces an electronic voting system, to replace the manual process. However, the move has been met with overwhelming resistance from the opposition who argue, this is meant to influence the outcome of the poll, which has been dominated by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) since independence from Britain.
“The Bill introduces (a) VVPAT printer to ensure that votes are supplemented by a permanent paper record of each electronic vote for purposes of auditing electronic ballots,” says the Bill presented by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale. It further states that the introduction of VVPAT necessitated redrafting of the Amendment in order to synchronise the procedures for the EVM with the verification process provided by the VVPAT printer ballot slips. It will distinguish the EVM voting procedure from voting by ballot paper, while it retains other provisions such as registration of voters, preparation of rolls, deletion of supplementary rolls, assistance of voters by election officers and increase in penalties.
The bare-knuckled fight over the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the 2019 general elections will go for final case management conference on November 6. The case pits the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) against the Attorney General (AG), chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and secretary to the IEC respectively. BCP’s attorney, Gabriel Komboni told Mmegi that the AG has raised a point regarding the amendment of declaration and affidavit. “We filed our amended declaration and they objected. They want us to file another affidavit, but we think that does not make sense. Whatever they are complaining about is a matter of evidence that will be dealt with during trial,” said Komboni.
Dumelang Saleshando told Mmegi on Monday as a follow-up question to the press conference that was held by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) on Saturday at Thapama Hotel here. The BCP is an official constituent member of the UDC as was confirmed by the UDC president, Duma Boko during the press briefing. “There are some people that we are talking to about the issue of EVMs. It is not necessary at this stage to state who those people are. We have not taken a decision that the people we are talking to will end up being our experts,” said Saleshando.
Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) on Tuesday denied reports that has appeared in sections of media related to the EVM hackathon by Botswana Election Commission. In an official media communication directly from BEL Chairman M V Gowtama, BEL termed the news reports as ‘completely baseless and false.’ Reports have said that BEL would be participating in a demonstration-cum-hackathon of EVMs being organised by Botswana Election Commission on May 18.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials have invited hackers to prove whether or not the country’s proposed electronic voting machine (EVM) system can be manipulated. The new voting system is expected to be used for the country’s next general election in 2019. The IEC, along with a team of experts from the system’s supplier Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) of India, will demonstrate how the EVM (with the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)) works, amid calls for the government to abandon the project. BEL is a state-owned company of India that produces EVM internationally known as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines because they record votes directly in electronic memory.
Botswana’s President Ian Khama has signed the Electoral Amendment Bill of 2016, a revision of the existing Electoral Act that paves the way for the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) ahead of the country’s general elections in 2019. The government believes the move will lead to improvements covering the registration of voters and preparation of rolls, including deleting provisions for supplementary rolls. However, opposition parties are concerned about the development and claim EVMs are open to security breaches and manipulation.
Political parties in Botswana are planning a demonstration to protest the introduction of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the upcoming general elections. The march, which will be held on 17 September in Gaborone, is being organised by the four opposition political parties; Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP). While the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) recently said that it was still to be consulted on the introduction of voting machine by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) it has not shown interest in joining the protest. Speaking on behalf of opposition parties recently, the BNF secretary-general, Moeti Mohwana, said they reject the use of EVM in 2019 elections, unless safeguards and audit trail accompany its use.
The resolution was taken at the party’s annual conference in Shakawe over the weekend. Yesterday, party spokesperson Dithapelo Keorapetse confirmed that the conference has mandated the central committee to engage government and delay the amendment of the electoral law pending full consultations with political parties as the key stakeholders. “The central committee of the party will advise itself on how to deal with the issue. Parliamentary and extra-parliamentary strategies such as peaceful protests and litigation will be explored,” said Keorapetse.
Various stakeholders, including political parties, analysts and the media, joined Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials to sample the stand-alone electronic vote machine, which is expected to be debuted at the 2019 general elections. To avoid disruptions during the power cuts, the machines use batteries, and are not connected to a data network. The portable and light machine allows a voter to first check if they have voted for a party of their choice before selecting a candidate by pressing a button. While several companies were invited to demonstrate their own voting machines yesterday, only Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) turned up, with analysts saying this placed the Indian company in poll position for the tender to supply the machines. BEL machines are already in use in Namibia, one of the few African countries using electronic voting.
Botswana, a tiny landlocked country north of South Africa, held an election over the weekend. The result was a victory for the incumbent, the Botswana Democratic Party, but by the narrowest margin in the country’s electoral history. It was an alarming campaign. As Amy Poteete points out at The Washington Post, the run-up to the election featured some extremely ugly politics, including the death of an opposition politician under mysterious circumstances and the alleged kidnapping and torture of others by the security apparatus. One journalist fearing for his life fled to South Africa, and his editor was charged with sedition. Nevertheless, the election itself appears to have been free of overt fraud. To folks unfamiliar with the region, all this may seem like typical African politics. But Botswana has always been the great exception to the rule. It is the only country in the entire continent to have had free and fair elections since the end of colonial rule. But it seems even Botswana is now dealing with the same sort of postcolonial troubles that have afflicted most other African nations.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has won the general elections in the world’s largest diamond producer. It secured at least 33 of the 57 parliamentary seats being contested, the national electoral commission says. A party needs 29 seats to take power. Opposition group Umbrella for Democratic Change has won 14 seats. The BDP party of President Ian Khama has been in power since Botswana gained independence in 1966. But it has been battling to gain support in urban areas where opposition parties have made recent inroads. Three parties competed to win over the 824,000 registered voters who directly elected the 57 members of parliament.
Botswana’s ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secured 33 of 57 parliament seats in national elections, initial results showed, putting President Ian Khama at the helm for a second five-year term. Residents of the southern African nation, who voted on Friday, re-elected the BDP party that has ruled the diamond-producing country since independence from Britain 48 years ago. Provisional results show the BDP’s main rival, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), with 14 seats and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with two seats. Eight seats were yet to be declared. This will be Botswana’s most closely contested election, and is likely to see the BDP’s majority sharply reduced from the 79 percent of seats it won in the 2009 election.
A series of mishaps at various polling stations around the country during the advance voting process over the weekend have raised doubts about the readiness of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to host the 2014 general elections. Uproar broke out on Monday after reports emerged that the weekend poll marred with controversy as some public servants were denied a chance to vote. Reports from various constituencies in the country indicate that voters were made to wait for long hours while in some instances voting was postponed because ballot papers were either defective or in short supply. In some instances, voters waited until midnight to cast their vote as the IEC was forced to extend voting hours to allow for new ballot papers to arrive. In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary hopeful in Molepolole North, Mohammed Khan expressed disappointment at the way the IEC handled the advanced voting process and cast aspersions of the Commission’s preparedness to coordinate the October 24 general election.
The Executive Secretary of Botswana’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says the electoral body is fully prepared to administer credible parliamentary and local government elections on Friday. “I can confirm that all the materials have reached 2,606 polling stations….Yesterday all the materials had left the constituency headquarters,” said electoral chief Gabriel Seeletso. Seeletso said the IEC has addressed concerns opposition party concerns over the recently compiled voters list that would be used for the elections.
Two major parties contesting Botswana’s upcoming general elections held their final rallies Saturday ahead of what is expected to be the most competitive election since independence from Britain in 1966. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by President Ian Khama, faces its first test with voters after a split in 2010 led to the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). Khama, a former army commander and the son of the country’s first president, Seretse Khama, has been in power since 2008 and made it clear at a rally in the capital Gaborone that he would run on his record in the October 24 poll. “If you want to move forward, vote for the BDP and if you want to move backwards vote for the opposition parties,” Khama said to thunderous applause from several thousand supporters.
Two major parties contesting Botswana’s upcoming general elections held their final rallies Saturday ahead of what is expected to be the most competitive election since independence from Britain in 1966. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), led by President Ian Khama, faces its first test with voters after a split in 2010 led to the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). Khama, a former army commander and the son of the country’s first president, Seretse Khama, has been in power since 2008 and made it clear at a rally in the capital Gaborone that he would run on his record in the October 24 poll.
Following the lapse of the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) deadline for expression of interest to hold public office yesterday, the party remains tight-lipped on the list of candidates for the primaries. BDP executive secretary Thabo Masalila confirmed yesterday that a huge number of members have shown interest in contesting in the party primaries, but would not reveal the candidates. “At the moment we can’t confirm who is who. It’s confidential. There are many files and many more letters are pouring in,” he said. He stated that the list would be passed on to the central committee, which will assess it and release the names to the public, as the date for primaries approaches. He added that the outcome of the delimitation commission would have an impact on the primaries.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is floating the idea of introducing electronic voting system in the next elections. The IEC principal public relations officer, Osupile Maroba, revealed that the commission was exploring the possibility of benchmarking on countries that have the same voting system as Botswana. The IEC has been conducting workshops with relevant stakeholders, gathering views on how to prepare for future general elections and come up with ways of encouraging people to register and vote in large numbers.
A Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) central committee meeting on Monday resolved to create a framework for the 2014 general elections, Mmegi is informed. In an interview yesterday, the Secretary General of the BDP, Kentse Rammidi, said they met with sub-committees about galvanising the party faithful into the right mood for the elections.
Regarding tactics to fend off the force of a combined opposition after four parties recently announced the formation of a united front for the next elections, Rammidi said the BDP was not threatened by the development. His party was far ahead because while the opposition were still working on an umbrella model for the 2014 elections, “we are intact and are simply preparing for the elections”, he said.
The Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) has said it supports the opposition cooperation involving the BNF, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), but warned that the parties should be cautious to ensure the project succeeds.
In a report to the just ended BNF conference held in Tsabong, which has been leaked to The Monitor, BNFYL president Kagiso Ntime, who read it, told the BNF faithful his league, gives a thumbs-up to the opposition cooperation project, also indicating that it has been a few steps ahead of the mother body in that it worked in concert with other opposition parties’ youth leagues and even sponsored a resolution at the BNF congress in Mochudi last year calling for cooperation talks with other parties.
BDP Regional Secretary Baemedi Kudumane said they expect thousands of delegates from around and outside the country
“We expect up to 3, 000 delegates and people from all the 57 constituencies. Also we have representatives from SWAPO (South West People’s Organisation) from Namibia, Zimbabwe African Nation Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) invited to the congress.
The Botswana National Front (BNF), the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Botswana Movement for Democracy have over the last several months been negotiating a deal to form a joint front against the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
“The parties have agreed on an umbrella and are coming together pretty much in BOFEPUSU fashion,” said the source. The Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions – BOFEPUSU – recently staged an eight-week nationwide strike over salaries.
“It was really now or never and the leaders were selfless enough to realise that it needed to be done for the greater good of the nation. Come next election, we shall have just that – a choice between the BDP and the one collective,” said the source.
Botswana: Political parties to conference will discuss administration of Botswana primary elections | Mmegi Online
According to a press release issued by the publicity secretary of the BNF, Moeti Mohwasa, his party will hold its annual national delegates’ conference from Sunday 17th July to Tuesday 19th July in Tsabong. “The conference will be preceded by the Women’s League Congress to be held on 16th July where a new leadership will be elected,” said Mohwasa.
… According to the executive secretary of the ruling party, Coma Serema, the main issues on the agenda will be a discussion of the compromise list which might replace the elections if it is adopted. The BDP delegates will discuss primary elections and how best to minimise contradictions occasioned by them.