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EVM case trial dates set for November

FRANCISTOWN: Justice Lot Moroka sacrificed other cases in his court diary on Wednesday to accommodate the much-anticipated Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) case that had put the political climate in the country on a knife-edge.

The case will now go for trial on November 12, 13, 14 and 16, 2018.

Moroka took the decision after it became apparent that the case was possibly going to be heard next year since nearer trial dates were not available in the diary of one of the applicant’s attorney.

Had Moroka not done so, legal experts are of the view that the case was probably going to disturb the preparations of the anticipated high stakes general elections next year.

Trial dates could not be set in May when the matter was last before court in order to give Parliament the chance to debate the Electoral Amendment Bill of 2017.However, when the case was brought before Moroka on Wednesday, the lead counsel of the applicant BCP (Botswana Congress Party) in the matter, Gabriel Komboni, told the court that Parliament was not able to debate the Bill as envisaged in May.

Therefore, Komboni said since the last sitting of Parliament in June did not discuss the Bill, it was appropriate under the circumstances to set the dates of hearing in the matter.

Counsel for the first respondent, Attorney General (AG), Matlhogonolo Phuthego, who is

representing the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, confirmed what Komboni said.

Other respondents in the case are the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Secretary to the IEC respectively.

Said Phuthego: “I confirm what my learned colleague said. The Bill in question was not discussed by Parliament and passed into law in June because Parliament was busy debating some urgent bills.  One such Bill is the Terrorism Bill while another was the Financial Intelligence Amendment Bill among others.”

Phuthego said since Botswana is a member of the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), Gaborone had to urgently implement the recommendations of the ESAAMLG.

Botswana had to do so to ensure that the country did not become a safe haven for money laundering and financing of terrorism, he said.

“Failure by Botswana not to comply with the requirements of ESAAMLG can lead to Botswana being blacklisted internationally and all its financial transactions and payments being interdicted,” Phuthego stated.

The BCP argues that EVMs are prone to manipulation, and can be hacked in favour of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) hence its abhorrence of the gadgets.




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