Bonu Urges Electoral Act Reform

BONU wants nurses to be accorded special dispensation during elections. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
BONU wants nurses to be accorded special dispensation during elections. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) has expressed the need for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to amend its Act to allow for nurses and doctors to vote without queuing on election day.

The general elections will be held on October 23, 2019, which may compel nurses and doctors to place their call to duty over their right to vote on the day.

“Nurses are categorised as essential service providers and by the nature of their duty are on duty 24/7. During elections, nurses will be on duty manning facilities,” BONU president Obonolo Rahube told The Monitor.

“This is a prejudice to the nurses because workers and Batswana in general will be on public holiday while casting their votes, which is a fundamental right as per our Constitution.” He added that nurses call for reforms on the Electoral Act because the current one inhibits them from participating in the democratic process.

Rahube continued that police officers and election officers would be voting on October 12, 2019 as per the IEC media release of September 18, 2019.

“We call our IEC to make a special dispensation for nurses during the upcoming general election for nurses to be abhorred from the long queues and be given tags like the media,” he highlighted.

The BONU president revealed that nurses want to continue delivering their health services during the election dDay with little or no disruption.

However, IEC spokesperson Osupile Maroba said BONU should raise the issue with the relevant authorities as what they are asking for requires for changes to be made on the Constitution.

“(The) IEC does not have power to change the Constitution. I think nurses who are on duty could ask the election officers during election day to be allowed to vote so that they could go to work.

I think they could also have a schedule at their work places on how they could assist each other for them to be able to vote,” Maroba said.

He clarified that the difference between nurses and the media is that the latter work in different polling stations and report to people on what is happening on election day.

On the electoral matter, 23 candidates will contest as independent candidates for seats at the National Assembly while 199 will contest for the Local Government ones.

In 2014, 24 independent candidates contested for National Assembly seats while 264 contested for those of Local Government.

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