The controversial Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), received with mixed emotions when the idea was first sold to the public, had Gaborone councillors locked in a heated debate this week.
The row erupted when the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) presented the state of preparedness for the 2019 general elections before the Gaborone City Council (GCC) full council meeting on Wednesday.
Marulamantsi councillor, Sergeant Kgosiitsile, was swift to voice his disagreement on the use of EVMs.
“There will be a lot of bloodshed if you guys use the EVM machine,” he warned, adding that he would not be surprised if what he says comes to pass. Kgosiitsile, of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), said that he was not prepared to watch as the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) uses the EVMs to steal votes.
The argument soon changed into a matter of political affiliation as he pointed out that the ruling party brought the EVMs into the country well aware of political unrest in those countries, which the BDP got the idea from. Most councillors agreed with Kgosiitsile, chipping in constantly as he fired questions and comments at the IEC representatives.
But not BDP chief whip, Forster Seretse who he stood to sternly chastised Kgosiitsile to refrain from stoking such fires.
He also tried to calm the situation down as he told the frazzled IEC officials that they should not fear any threats the councillors made, as that was their own way of voicing their concerns out.
Maruapula councillor, Motlogelwa Moatlhodi, commented that one of the issues raised in the IEC’s presentation concerning the machines was the fact that there were EVM-related cases that have been registered at the High Court, which meant that Batswana did not support their use.
He said that they were the representatives of the people, hence what they say should be heeded by the IEC.
In addressing the issues raised by the councillors, the IEC representatives cited the case of the Botswana Congress Party against the IEC, saying that the party has agreed to allow Parliament to debate the amendment Bill that advocates for the use of the EVM before the case proceeds in court.