Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Publicity Secretary Moeti Mohwasa says they together with the Botswana Congress Party will on the 17th September hold a march to protest against the recently passed bill on the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). Mohwasa said the march, to be held in Gaborone , will also focus on abuse of state media by the Botswana Democratic Party and the education crisis.
He said that contrary to some comments that they did not want the EVMs, the truth of the matter is that they do not have a problem with their use , but wanted safeguards included in the Act for their satisfaction. Their conditions for acceptance of EVMs are that the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) be incorporated into the electronic voting machine and that there be a precinct count optical scan introduced as well as paper ballots. He said only when their recommendations are included would they accept the use of EVMs.
Mohwasa 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.” He added that it would have been more democratic for voters to be consulted before passing the bill.“A lot of people who will be using these machines have not been informed about them. How do we expect people to embrace such technology overnight and express their decisions with when they have not been consulted on?” he said, adding that the people should be sensitized and given time to decide on the intentions of government and reject the machines if need be.
“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 said.
Meanwhile, the UDC and BCP are said to be preparing to take President Ian Khama to court should he sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into Law. Opposition parliamentary caucus spokesperson Dr Phenyo Butale is quoted in the media saying the bill amendment was ultra vires to the Constitution of Botswana,. According to Butale, to use Electronic Voting Machines was in contravention of Section 32 (3)(c) of the Constitution which states, states that , “ where the parliamentary election is contested in any constituency, a poll shall be taken constituency at which the votes shall be given by ballot…”