The minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng has called on Members of Parliament (MPs) not to support a motion to amend the Electoral Act.
Commenting during a parliamentary debate on Friday, Morwaeng said the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has undertaken in its manifesto to review the country’s Constitution, where a matter raised through a motion such as this, could then be addressed then.
Morwaeng said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is a body that guarantees free and fair elections in a democratic setup.
“The composition of the IEC is a constitutional matter – s65A of the Constitution; 1.2 The IEC is a non-partisan body comprising the Chairperson who shall be a Judge appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC); a legal practitioner also appointed by the JSC; five other persons who are fit, proper and impartial, appointed by the JSC from a list recommended by the All Party Conference.s65A(c);
“1.3 The Commission determines its own procedure and proceedings. s65A (8); 1.4 It submits its report after completion of an election to the Minister who is obliged to lay it before the National Assembly not later than seven days after the National Assembly first meets after the Minister has received the report.s65A (13), Security of tenure in respect of the Commissioners & Secretary to the IEC 2.1 The Commission’s diverse membership enjoys the security of tenure,” Morwaeng said.
He added the voting method is such that it guarantees the secrecy of the vote, continuous registration of voters, an inspection of voters’ roll by members of the public and the safety of ballot boxes.
It also guarantees security at polling stations, transfer of registration, assistance by election officers to voters needing help, transparent counting and re-counting process and an opportunity to challenge the outcome of an election through election petitions.
However, other MPs, especially from the opposition, disagreed with Morwaeng.
They pointed out that elections will never be free if the President
Francistown legislator, Wynter Mmolotsi said it was time for the Electoral Act to be amended with an approach to plug its loopholes. “The reason why some members of the ruling party do not want it is because it still favours them. Even IEC supports the Electoral Act and it will help them have a proper budget and also to prepare for elections well in time,” Mmolotsi, who represents Alliance for Progressives argued.
“This issue whereby the President is the one determining or setting the date for elections is not proper.
Our elections are not free and fair as some of you are claiming because there is interference during preparations and voting time from intelligence.”
MP for Mahalapye West, Yandani Boko said when presenting his motion: “That there be an amendment of Electoral Act to bring integrity, credibility, freeness, fairness in the country’s elections and for the legitimacy of government.
This is critical for political stability, civility, promotion of civil liberties and economic prosperity. We need to work hard for the legitimacy of the electoral process by minimising and eliminating situations in which the results of the elections are not acceptable to some parties.
“Our past elections were highly disputed, discredited and thus making the government illegitimate in the minds of the people, which is a source of potential instability that could engulf the country in conflict and chaos.”
He said if the ruling party wants to be genuinely legitimate in government, then it must agree to these electoral reforms unless if it wants to harbour plans to rig elections again.
The debate on the motion continues this week.