Wearing party colours during voting is legal – IEC
FRANCISTOWN: Contrary to claims that electorates are denied access to cast their votes while wearing political party colours, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Secretary General, Gabriel Seeletso has cleared the mist by declaring that the practice does not violate the Electoral Act.
With the 2014 general elections looming, there has been confusion among politicians who accuse police officers of denying voters putting on party colours the chance to cast their votes during elections saying that party colours are not allowed at the polling stations. This has been resurfacing on many occasions during elections education forums with the politicians seeking clarity on the issue.
However, Seeletso said that there is no violation of the Electoral Act in donning political party colours; but writing messages (that align to a certain party contesting elections) on them is not allowed.
Seeletso said if police officers chase people from polling stations just because they are wearing political party colours, the presiding officers are held accountable because police officers take orders from them. “Police officers are just there to observe and make sure the queues are calm but if there is something other than that, presiding officers are the ones who know what to do because they know everything about the Act and they work hand in hand with police officers,” he said.
He however, pointed out that though there have been reports pertaining to the issue, they have never formally registered such cases, adding that it is only because most of the voters do not understand the Electoral Act. “Section 113 clearly states that voters can only violate the act if they are in possession of any offensive weapon or wearing any dress or decoration calculated to intimidate voters. So there is no violation of the Act in plain party colours,” he explained.
On the case of vehicles branded with party colours entering polling stations carrying voters, Seeletso said, “they are allowed as long as they do not stay for long.”