Former Deputy Speaker and Tonota MP Pono Moatlhodi has called Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership to act swiftly and report the government of Botswana to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for imposing Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) on Batswana.
Speaking at a UDC rally in Tlokweng over the weekend, Moathodi said government’s disregard for all the voices of Batswana who reject EVMs was concerning. “What is at stake here? It’s not that they will be any trouble if we don’t rush to use this machines for 2019 elections unless the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government has a secret agenda to rig elections with these machines,” he said.
Moatlhodi said Batswana should be concerned by the BDP-led government’s motive for insisting on EVMs, which maybe to rig elections. “If there is no such motive about these EVMs, why would the government want to go to so much length and force them on people even though they clearly stated that they don’t want them,” he said.
To guard against rigging, the maverick political veteran called on the opposition to involve legal practitioners and write to the ICJ to avert being disadvantaged by the BDP in 2019.
Speaking in support of Moatlhodi, former national assembly speaker Dr. Magraet Nasha vowed to lead marches protesting against EVMs and other concerns that are being disregarded by government. “We will march to the Office of the President and other relevant authorities regarding this matter, with knowledge that they will unleash the police to sjambok us but that will never deter us from protesting. We are not afraid to die for seeking justice for the people of this country,” she said.
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Tshenolo Mabeo acknowledged at a Kgotla meeting in Kumakwane two weeks ago that it would be beneficial if government could heed calls for ensuring paper trail when EVMs are used- an issue at the centre of opposition complaints against EVMs. He however said it would cost government between P60 and P70 million to include paper trail and that it would be up to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to make such recommendations to government after its nationwide consultative tours.
The Electoral Amendment Bill which was passed by the National Assembly during the closing day of the 3rd meeting of the 2nd Session of Parliament, was signed into law by President Ian Khama but does not have a provision for the paper trail.