The Independent Electoral Commission(IEC) will make a presentation on Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) National Council which starts today (Friday). IEC has introduced EVMs to be used for the first time in the 2019 General Election.
BDP Secretary General said the purpose of inviting IEC is to enable democrats to gain greater appreciation of how the machines work. It has however been alleged that the party decided to invite IEC to address its members as some were allegedly planning to bring a motion requesting government to suspend the use of the EVM in the 2019 General Election.
This comes after some people expressed skepticism, about the machine in areas which the IEC team visited to consult on the introduction of the EVM. Ntuane however stated that just like any stakeholder, especially as a political party and key player in elections, they found it fitting to play a part in their members being educated on the EVM. Bontle Marumolo ,an official at IEC- EVM office confirmed that her office, has been invited to make a presentation tomorrow at the BDP National Council.
There have been accusations that consultation was not done with the electorate who are directly affected by the introduction of the EVM prior to its introduction. The fear within some quarters of the BDP has been that the opposition could use failure to consult prior to the amendment of the Electoral Act to sway votes. EVM has sparked controversy, as there are claims that the machine could be manipulated during elections. Opposition parties have threatened to sue government if the machines are used in the election.
The opposition has also indicated that should the machines be used without a paper trail during the 2019 election then there would be no elections.
The opposition is insisting on the introduction of a security measure that would preserve the integrity of the electoral system. They want a voter verifiable paper trail (VVPT), which is basically a record of how votes were cast. Without such a system, it would be very easy to manipulate the electoral outcome; something that the opposition fears the BDP plans to do in 2019. The opposition has since petitioned Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale to ask for the introduction of the VVPT.
Some BDP members of Parliament have also expressed reservation about the machines especially the lack of consultation with all relevant stakeholders regarding the amendment of the Electoral Act to introduce the machines for voting. IEC is currently doing consultations across the country after Parliament approved the Bill, which has since been signed into law.
Umbrella for Democratic Change through its Vice President Ndaba Gaolathe wrote a paper titled “Introduction of the Electronic Voting Machines in Botswana” which was submitted to diplomatic missions, arguing that the EVM discussion caught the ruling party MPs unawares as it did all other MPs. He stated in the paper that this is not a surprise as it is consistent with the governance style of the current regime.