Political parties have called on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to extend the hours for registration to cater for those who work ‘abnormal’ hours in the second supplementary voter registration that will take place from 1st May until 18th May 2014.
Umbrella for Democratic Change spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa said people are too busy trying to make ends meet and that some people knock off late in the evening. He therefore, called on the IEC to extend voter registration hours to 7p.m during the week and 6p.m during weekends. Usually, voter registration is from 8a.m to 8p.m during the week and 8a.m to 2p.m on weekends.
On how they will encourage more people to register, Mohwasa said; “We will continue encouraging people to vote in rallies, door to door campaigns and other ways. It is important that people express their unhappiness under the BDP rule by voting them out.”
Botswana Congress Party Publicity Secretary, Taolo Lucas shared Mohwasa’s sentiments. He said they have approached the IEC on the issue of extending voter registration hours but did not get the feedback they were hoping for. He said it would be advisable to open the polling stations as early as 6:30a.m for those who work early and beyond 6p.m for those who knock off late.
Lucas said there is little they can do to get people registered apart from what they have done in the past. He said they will continue with their door to door campaigns and follow up people at different gatherings to pursue them to register.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Mpho Balopi could not be reached for comment as his phone rang unanswered.
IEC Principal Communications Officer, Osupile Maroba said they will work harder to reach their target during this exercise. He said adverts in different media will be increased to encourage Batswana to register. Maroba said it is important that people take the opportunity as it is their last. He further called on organisations to allocate time slots for IEC whenever they host gatherings with potential voters.
Maroba said the problem lies with people as they do receive the calls to go out and register but choose not to for reasons best known to them. He also said it was surprising that while people in urban areas are exposed to more information than those in rural areas, they tend to be reluctant to vote.
Maroba also said they do not have any budget constraints at the moment and will spend as much as it is needed to encourage Batswana to vote. He said shall they need additional funding, they will request for it.
Parliament recently adopted a motion calling on government to facilitate the extension of voter registration due to low turnout by the public. To date 655, 624 people have registered to vote against IEC’s target of 1.2 million.