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.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Botswana.
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.