BDP undecided on use of voting machines

Nicholas Mokwena
Monday, 31 July 2017
Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)

Ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will not publicly state its stance on the controversial Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), Botswana Guardian has learnt.

What has been communicated by the newly-elected BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi after the congress is that the party will allow Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to execute its mandate in so far as elections are concerned. 

This has attracted conclusion that the BDP approves of the EVMs, which came as a result of amendment to the Electoral Act. The introduction of the EVM has resulted in Botswana Congress Party (BCP) lodging a legal suit against the use of the machine in the coming 2019 general election. 

BCP and Botswana National Front (BNF) who are contracting members of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the Conferences held in Francistown and Kang respectively have rejected the EVM. BNF resolved to reject the EVM in its entirety no matter what form it comes in. 

Its President Advocate Duma Boko said whether with paper trail or not they would not accept the EVM. BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi stated that the party’s elective congress has decided to allow the IEC to do its job.

“It is up to the IEC to decide whether to use the EVM or the ballot paper or even both. Let us allow the IEC to deal with the matter, as they are the ones seized with the matter. The EVM is not our doing, it is the IEC’s”, said Balopi when addressing the media for the first time since assuming office early this month. BDP has been accused of not making a pronouncement on the EVM.

The party first discussed the EVM during its National Council held in Gaborone in March this year where IEC made a presentation. It was agreed at the council that the IEC should make another appearance at the Tonota elective congress early this month. At the congress democrats called for improvements to be made in the use of the EVMs so as to have fair and credible elections.

Some people in areas which the IEC team has visited, to consult on the introduction of the machine were skeptical about the machine. The argument has been that no consultation was done with the electorate who are directly affected by the introduction of the EVM. 

EVM has sparked controversy, as there are claims that the machine could be manipulated during elections. There have been calls for a voter verifiable paper trail (VVPT), which is basically a record of how votes were cast. EVM Unit Coordinator Gabriel Seeletso is currently compiling a report on his consultative meetings with Batswana.

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