FRANCISTOWN: The Electoral Amendment Bill of 2017, which was published in the Government Gazette in December 2017, has thrown the spanner in the works in the eagerly awaited Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) case.
The EVMs case gained prominence locally and internationally after the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) took the government (precisely the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration), represented by the Attorney General, to court. The chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Secretary to the IEC respectively are also cited as defendants in the matter. The BCP is of the view that the EVMs are prone to manipulation and can be hacked in favour of the BDP, hence its abhorrence of the gadgets. The BCP says that all sections of the Electoral (Amendment) Act No. 7 of 2016 which provide for the replacement of voting by Ballot Paper by EVMs be declared unconstitutional and in violation of Section 32 (3) (c) of the Constitution of Botswana be set aside and struck out. Moreover, the party argues that Section 6 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act No.7 of 2016 which replaced Section 8 of the Electoral Act thereby abolishing continuous and supplementary registration of voters is unconstitutional and violates Section 67 of the Constitution of Botswana be set aside and struck out. Any action, the BCP argues, done in pursuance or in execution or intended execution of the aforesaid provisions of the Electoral (Amendment) Act No.7 of 2016 be declared unlawful and set aside. On Wednesday this week, the BCP’s lead attorney Gabriel Komboni who was assisted by counsel Dutch Leburu told the court that the matter was scheduled for final case management conference (FCMC).
Komboni stated that the BCP and the AG have filed
He added that in terms of paragraph nine of the report, the parties seek dates of trial and envisage that five days would suffice for the trial.
Komboni added that the AG has filed papers on April 23, 2018, which were admissions of facts pursuant to a notice the BCP has given them.
“The papers attached a draft bill which was published in the Government Gazette of December 2017. The court will realise that the Electoral Amendment Bill of 2017 at Section 38 seeks to repeal the existing electoral act, which is challenged by the plaintiff. My instructions are that with this development it would be better not to set trial dates because there is a possibility of the Bill being challenged in court or be repealed once it is brought before Parliament for debate,” said Komboni.
He added that there is uncertainty of what will happen after the proposed law is brought before parliament in July hence setting another date for status report will be appropriate under the prevailing circumstances. The AG’s attorney Mathogonolo Phuthego confirmed what Komboni said. “In view of what was said it is better if the matter is set for status report,” he said.
Justice Lot Moroka then set the matter for August 1, 2018 for status report.
The president of the BCP, Dumelang Saleshando and the former secretary of the IEC, Gabriel Seeletso who is now EVM consultant were amongst people who graced court on Wednesday.