Khama approves electronic voting machines

  • If the BDP insists on electoral fraud through EVMs,  we are prepared to pay with our lives – BCP
  • We will take it to court – UDC


President Ian Khama has  signed into law the controversial Electoral Bill. The Electoral Act  seeks to introduce  electronic voting through Electoral Voting Machines (EVM), amongst other amendments. The assenting into Act by the President comes amidst  opposition parties  discomfort and hope that the Bill would atleast  not be passed without  their recommendations  as they believed the Bill was not with good intentions.
News that Khama signed the bill into an act of law despite heavy disputation by stakeholders, angered members of the opposition yesterday. Reached for comment ,  BCP Publicity Secretary  Dithapelo Keorapetse said they were disappointed albeit not  surprised by the President’s assent. “We expected Khama to sign the Bill into a law because he has no regard for opposition or civil society opinions,” Keorapetse said.
According to the BCP spokesperson, they regard the Act as unconstitutional in that it is ultra vires   some provisions of the Constitution.  “We are very disappointed and we condemn the Presidential assent to the Bill,” Keorapetse said adding that they would challenge law in court as it was unconstitutional.   He said  they will defend  Batswana’s right  to  vote in a free, fair and transparent manner and to register and be candidates for elections.
“There can never be elections in Botswana that will be rigged, the BCP will not allow that and we promise that the BCP will do all it can to make sure that 2019 elections reflect the will of Batswana. If the BDP insists on electoral fraud through EVMs in 2019 we are prepared to pay with our lives to defend our citizens’ full suffrage and political stability,” he noted.
Furthermore,  he said  with the new law, it will be difficult for one to be a parliamentary candidate  as candidates would now be required to pay P5000  while P1000 is required  from council candidates. This he said, the BCP also condemns.
Meanwhile, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa said the passing of the Bill has opened a way for them to issue a statutory notice to challenge the Act; “ we could not have challenged it while  it was still a bill.”
Mohwasa said they will also continue to hold  demonstration against the EVMs.  Two weeks ago, the UDC and the BCP  held a demonstration, where they protested against EVMs amongst other things.  Speaking at a prior press conference, Mohwasa stated that their  conditions for acceptance of  EVMs  were  for the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)  to be incorporated into the electronic voting machine,   that there be a precinct  count optical scan  introduced as  well as  paper ballots  availed.
He   said their safeguards were informed by  experiences reported  from   the Netherlands, Ireland  Paraguay and  Germany  where the machines were banned.  “ EVMS were banned because they distort democracy, they can be manipulated and  hacked . That is why we are suspicious of these machines.” Furthermore, the Publicity Secretary said it was important for the voters to have been consulted before the bill could be passed, as democracy ought to be premised on consultation.
“ This is part  of  pockets of tactics that the BDP wants to put in place to ensure its continuity in power beyond 2019 because there is no doubt that they are aware that  they will lose the coming general elections,” Mohwasa stated at the time.