- Links postponement to BDP unreadiness for primaries
- Likens IEC to a sub-committee of the BDP
The unexpected postponement of voter registration for the 2024 general elections must be politically motivated to favour the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), the Botswana National Front (BNF) has said.
The party says it is particularly troubled by lack of transparency surrounding the reasons for the postponement and that this has ignited doubts about the credibility of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
“Suspicions are that the BDP is not prepared in terms of their own primary elections, the IEC wants to accommodate them in the process of voter registration,” the BNF says in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa.
It asserts that this move is also indicative of administrative weaknesses within the IEC and suggests a lack of preparation. The BNF notes that these concerns are coming at a time when the IEC’s impartiality and credibility have come under scrutiny.
It says the IEC has become so enmeshed in BDP interests that it is like a sub-committee of the BDP or an extension of the Office of the President.
“The IEC has lost the credibility and integrity to run free and fair elections as they have turned themselves into a sub-committee of the BDP or a department in the Office of the President,” says the statement.
“It is common cause that the BDP rigged the 2019 general elections and has put in place plans to rig the 2024 generals (through) inter-alia ghost voters issued with Omang, intelligence and security officers who will be given multiple Omang cards, and online registration which will be manipulated.”
The BNF warns that such behaviour has the potential to breed dissatisfaction in the population and even incite social unrest if the citizens become disillusioned with the democratic system and its associated institutions.
It calls for increased transparency and accountability in administration of elections and urges the IEC to re-establish its credibility by ensuring fair and democratic conduct in the 2024 general elections.
Response by Osupile Maroba – Public Relations Officer of the IEC
1.The BNF has expressed serious concerns regarding the unexpected postponement of the voter registration process for the upcoming 2024 general elections saying the postponement could be politically motivated in favour of the BDP which seems to be lagging behind in primary elections.
The Independent Electoral Commission understands fully the concerns of the Botswana National Front (BNF) because they are part of the Commission’s critical primary stakeholders in the electoral process. Nonetheless, IEC wishes to make it clear to its stakeholders and anybody concerned about the developments that, the process of registering voters for elections has no link with the political parties’ activities. Registration of voters focuses on all eligible voters irrespective of their political party affiliation and during registration voters do not reveal their political party alignment. Moreover, Political parties do not need the voters roll to make decisions on primary elections or candidate selection. Therefore, for BNF to assert that postponement of the voters’ registration ‘could be politically motivated in favour of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’ is clearly misplaced.
2.The party in their Press statement also expressed concern by the lack of transparency surrounding the reasons for this delay, which they say has ignited doubts about the credibility of the IEC.
Elections in any democracy are by nature a sanctuary of high security undertaking, and therefore, the management of the process should reflect the protection it requires. IEC engages and continuously briefs stakeholders on every phase of the electoral process including the recent instant communication on the postponement of the voters’ registration. The IEC is transparent enough and takes along all stakeholders in the preparations for elections. The credibility of IEC is clearly vouched by its complete adherence to the rule of law in the management of elections. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the postponement was an administrative electoral management process and information shared was adequate to inform our stakeholders. Anything more than this would be compromising the security of the electoral process.
For purposes of clarity, preparations for elections is a multiple activities process. It comprises a series of consequential activities put together for smooth transition of the election plan. In the process IEC monitors the implementation to ensure that the activities progress according to the set electoral time lines. The Commission regularly reviews and updates the plan to ensure that none of the processes lags behind. Whenever it becomes necessary, the Commission adjust the time lines to accommodate activities which may be found lagging behind. Hence the postponement.