IEC halts EVM procurement

  • Says it did this because of BCP court case
  • BCP says EVM purchase unconstitutional: violates ‘ballot paper’ provision
  • Attorney general vows to oppose the case

TEFO PHEAGE

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has written to the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is suing them over the introduction and purchasing of the contentious Electronic Voting Machines (EVM)- informing them that they will halt the purchasing of the machines since the matter is still before the courts for determination.
The BCP wants the court to declare “that the Electronic (Amendment) Act, Act No. 7 of 2016 is unconstitutional and violates Section 32 (2) (c) of the Constitution to the extent that it introduces voting by electronic machines and/or computers as opposed to the ballot paper”.
The party also wants the High Court to declare “that the Electoral (Amendment) Act, Act No. 7 of 2016 is unconstitutional and violates Section 32 (2) (c) of the Constitution to the extent that it seeks to replace the method of voting by ballot, which means voting by way of physically marking on a ballot paper to be deposited in a ballot box, with an EVM and/or computer which does not produce a ballot paper indicating how the voter voted and which can be susceptible to counting and verification”.
The election coordinating office had already instructed the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) to facilitate the purchasing of the machines whose nationwide consultations are currently being done by the former Commissions Secretary, Gabriel Seeletso. Seeletso has had to brave rising scepticism across the country as concerns over the machines which are expected to be in use in the 2019 elections- continues to rise.
IEC Spokesperson, Osupile Maroba, in a brief interview with this publication said he was not yet in a position to speak on the matter without clearance from his legal team, “I can only give you a comment on Monday after consulting with my legal team,” he said.
The BCP‘s mouthpiece, Dithapelo Keorapetse confirmed that the they have received communication from IEC informing them that they will not be proceeding with the purchasing of the machines in view of the court case, while the Attorney General has informed that that they will oppose the case.
PPADB has previously dismissed an application by BCP requesting it to reconsider its decision to approve the request by IEC for direct appointment of Bharat Electronic Limited to supply of EVMs.
The BCP posits that voting by EVM and/or computer is not voting by ballot as provided for by Section 32 of the Constitution. The party also says the Electoral Act is unconstitutional and infringes against Section 67 of the constitution to the extent that it has abolished supplementary registration of voters, thereby disenfranchising all those who would qualify as voters after the period of general registration of voters elapses.
It wants the court to declare that any action done in pursuance or in execution or intended execution of the aforesaid provisions of the Electoral Act is unlawful and be set aside.

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