Wednesday, 13 March 2019 15:55

VP Tsogwane unamused

Vice President Slumber Tsogwane says Members of Parliament would live to regret tabling and passing a motion calling for direct election of the president. The motion was tabled by MP for Nata-Gweta Polson Majaga and passed by Parliament last week. Tsogwane told Parliament that it was wrong to have the motion during election year.

According to the vice president political reform is a very critical subject. He pointed out that it is not an easy topic that one can just subject to one while ignoring others.“We have to go and consult the people who have voted us to this Parliament. We cannot leave them behind, come and pass this motion without engaging them, because it is a very critical motion, as I have said, it will bring a lot of changes. We are in an election year, it will create a lot of perceptions,” said Tsogwane who is also MP for Boteti West.

The vice president indicated that when a subject is discussed during such a time, it has the potential of misdirecting some people or changing their focus to something else. “And this is where you experience voter apathy.” He explained that government has just engaged Batswana on another subject related to an election, being the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

“We just dropped it, and now we are coming with another subject in an election year. A person who does not have the same understanding or same level of understanding as you MPs, you have to go and explain this to that person, and tell him or her why you are bringing such a subject during such a time, and what is the intention. “It is not a question of when it is going to be implemented, it is the historical context that we will be creating, and that is what people are going to refer to and start engaging their minds in, and some people are asking themselves a lot of questions,” said Tsogwane when debating the motion.

Tsogwane said it is not a bad motion, but the timing is also very critical, as well as culture and what underpins the country’s democracy. He revealed that he had tried, to engage Majaga regarding the motion, “but conveniently he has avoided me.”
He does not have any qualms with that as it is Majaga’s choice. “I do not have any problem, he should not think that I will think otherwise about him. I am very liberal, so there was no need for him to avoid me because I was going to engage him and consult with him further.”

Tsogwane said the country has just withstood the EVM storm and cannt afford to be distracted by another potentially divisive electoral reform in an elelction year. “We have a system which is serving us well and we want to change it in the election year. What is the urgency of trying to bring this motion now?”

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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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