Following announcement that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will not be used during the 2019 general elections, government has moved swiftly to repeal the controversial Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016.
The Act was passed by Parliament in 2016 during former president Ian Khama’s reign, but has not been brought into operation.
It introduced changes like electronic voting, abolition of supplementary registration, increased nomination fees and fines, amongst others.
These changes caused disapproval from opposition political parties and some sections of the general public.
However, following calls for the introduction of the paper trail, on December 1, 2017, Government published in the Government Gazette the Electoral (Amendment) Bill of 2017 that amended the 2016 Act while at the same time introduced Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail. The Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was not tabled in Parliament.
Just four months into Mokgweetsi Masisi’s presidency in August 2018 precisely, government announced that since the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016 is not in operation, the 2019 general elections will be conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act [Cap. 02:09], which does not provide for the use of EVMs, nor prohibits supplementary registration.
Now Masisi’s administration has moved swiftly to scrap off the law altogether.
The Acting Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Machana Ronald Shamukuni published in the Government Gazette (Extraordinary) of February 12, 2019 a draft Bill labelled the Electoral (Amendment (Repeal) Bill, 2019 that he intends to present to Parliament before the end of the August House.
He said the objective of the Bill is to repeal the Electoral (Amendment) Act no.7 of 2016 which addressed issues including the use of EVMs.
“This Bill seeks to repeal the Electoral Act No. 7 of 2016. This was done in order to reiterate the intention of the government not to use the electronic voting machines and not to commence the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016 following consultations with political parties and the public,” said Shamukuni.
Meanwhile, the case, which the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) launched against the Attorney General (AG), Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Secretary to the IEC challenging the 2016 Act continued before Justice Lot Moroka last Friday.
The Friday hearing was set to deal with subpoenas that the applicant issued against the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board The court has set trial for this case to commence from April 8- 12, 2019; however, the bill may end up rendering this trial mute or just an academic exercise.