FRANCISTOWN: An elections registration officer, who allegedly connived with candidates of a certain political party to illegally register voters for the upcoming general elections where they did not principally reside, could face legal action.
In the present scenario, the voter, Jankie Oduetse, was registered to vote for the upcoming general elections at Kanana ward (Francistown West constituency) during the first round of the election registration exercise. However, the Alliance for Progressives council candidate for Kanana ward, Ace Ntheetsang, smelt a rat in regards to Oduetse’s registration.
Ntheetsang, who was once a councillor for Kanana for two terms, later filed an objection against Oduetse’s registration.
Ntheetsang told the court that he knew people who resided at the address where Oduetse was registered since they were his neighbours, but he did not know who Oduetse is. Magistrate Kaveri Kapeko, who subsequently struck off Oduetse from the voters’ roll, upheld Ntheetsang’s objection. However, Kapeko advised Oduetse to go the offices of the elections body, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), to normalise his registration if he so wished.
When Oduetse was asked by the court if it was true that he registered where he was not supposed to as Ntheetsang had alleged, an equally surprised Oduetse said: “First of all, I am not a resident of Kanana ward and I have never registered to vote in Kanana. I don’t know how my name appears in the Kanana voters’ roll because I am not a resident of Kanana and I have never registered in Kanana”.
He added: “I live in Jamataka village and I have registered to vote in Jamataka. Probably, Ntheetsang may be privy to information how my name mysteriously appeared in the Kanana voters’ roll because I did not register in Kanana. I am totally at a loss about how my name appeared in the Kanana voters’ roll and as
Before the objections were brought to court, there were widespread rumours that a parliamentary and council candidate of a certain political party went to Jamataka and Shashemooke villages where they collected names and Omang numbers (National identity cards) of football players of the said villages.
They then, according to the rumours, connived with a registration officer to register the footballers in their absence in the Kanana voters’ roll. The revelation that the unknown registration officer faces prospects of future criminal action arose during a meeting between IEC officers and Party Liaison Committee (PLC) agents at Ntshe House when The Monitor made enquiry on Friday.
This reporter asked the IEC’s principal elections officer in Francistown, Nyanga Nyanga, if the elections body would investigate how Oduetse was registered in Kanana since he too was surprised about how his name came to appear in the Kanana voters’ roll.
Nyanga said: “I am not privy to the incident you are talking about because I was not in court when the issue you are talking about was brought before court. It would be unfortunate if other IEC officers who were in court when that objection was raised did not pick it”.
Nyanga added: “But we will investigate the matter to determine if there was impropriety on the part of our registration officers, which may warrant criminal action to be taken against them”.
After Ntheetsang filed his objection with the court, a total of 13 names were removed from the Kanana voters’ roll.
This may lend credence to allegations that some registration officers may have connived with some politicians to illegally register voters.