Last Updated
Friday 17 April 2015, 18:00 pm.
Prisoner seeks his right to vote

An inmate at the Gaborone First Offenders Prison, has taken the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to court seeking an order to allow him to vote in the forthcoming general elections.
By Staff Writer Sun 19 Apr 2015, 06:32 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Prisoner seeks his right to vote








In his application, Thomas Sibanda wants the court to order the IEC to put all the necessary measures into place to enable him to register and vote in the local government and parliamentary elections in October.

In his application, Sibanda, who is represented by a Gaborone law firm, Kanjabanga and Associates, cites the Attorney General and IEC as the first and second respondents respectively.

Sibanda also wants the court to declare Section 1 (1) (b) as read with Section 6 (2) of the Electoral Act to be ultra vires the Constitution of Botswana.

The Act stipulates that no person shall be registered as a voter if a death sentence has been imposed on him/her.  It further states that no persons shall be registered as a voter if that person who has been sentenced to a prison sentence that exceeds six months.

Sibanda's lawyers argued that his disqualification to vote by the Act, renders the provisions of Sections 3, 12, 13 and 15 of the Constitution of Botswana inoperative.

Section 3 talks about fundamental rights and freedoms of the individuals.  "Whereas every person in Botswana is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right whatever his race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed or sex but subject for the rights and freedoms of others.

Section 12 covers the protection of freedom of expression.  It reads: "Except with his own consent, that is to say, freedom to holding opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas, information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference and freedom from interference with his correspondence." 

Section 15 deals with protection from discrimination on the grounds of race and other factors.

The lawyers want the court to declare that Section 3, 12, 13 and 15 of the Constitution of the country, supersede the Electoral Act and therefore Sibanda should be allowed to vote.

In their letter to Kanjabanga and Associates, the IEC stated that they have established 2,288 polling stations in all 490 polling districts in all the 56 constituencies to serve as places at which registration of voters shall be carried out.  The IEC said all the polling stations and their names have been published in the Government Gazette.

They also reminded the lawyers about Section 6 (1) of the Electoral Act, which bars prisoners to vote.

IEC has appointed a Gaborone law firm, Michin and Kelly, to act for it in this matter.



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