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.