Vote petitions - a lesson to Batswana

The parliamentary election results petitions by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ended Wednesday following their dismissal by the Court of Appeal (CoA).

Five CoA judges Ian Kirby, Zibani Makhwade, Isaac Lesetedi, Monametsi Gaongalelwe and Singh Walia unanimously struck out the UDC appeals citing lack of jurisdiction on their part. Following the decision, UDC withdrew some of the petitions that were scheduled for trial.

That being the case, we call for all stakeholders to introspect and reflect back on the cases and use them as an eye opener going forward.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) being the main player in this case should look back at the 2019 elections and the petitions to better improve its work and mandate.

It is quite clear that there were so many irregularities, some caused by the loopholes in the Electoral Act. These loopholes could be some form of a trap for the country’s democratic principles in as far as the integrity of elections is concerned. The country’s democracy is at stake, and should this continue in this regard, we could find ourselves in the middle of a political unrest.

Botswana used to be referred to as a ‘beacon of hope’ in Africa, but it seems this is no longer the case given the litany of complaints concerning the last elections.

Government should resource the IEC and protect its independence. Some of the things that were observed during the 2019 elections were just an eyesore and could open a can of worms for the country.

For example, the IEC seemed unprepared for natural disasters. During counting of ballots, some areas experienced storms, which lead to power cuts. However, there was no electricity backup which forced the presiding officers to temporarily halt the process.

On another matter, election officers are not trained adequately on the process of conducting national elections.

It is not just the IEC; security organs such as the DIS must stay away from the election process. More recently, questions have been asked of political funding. Foreign players have been accused of using their money to set the tone for the country’s democratic rule. 

South African-based billionaire, Zunaid Moti allegedly rooted for the UDC and likewise a battalion of Indian and Chinese businessmen were supposedly for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). This is all wrong!

Our beloved Botswana could be sold to outside forces and this would be our own doing of shunning political funding. The ruling party should embrace the idea of political party funding. President Mokgweetsi Masisi has presented himself as a very progressive leader with political tolerance and this is the chance to show that he is real.

Lastly, there is need for voter education. It is said that the IEC registered a high number of spoilt votes in the past elections, something that could be due to lack of knowledge and proper education regarding elections.

Today’s thought

“An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.”

– George Bernard Shaw

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