The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has told off the secretary of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on the recent announcement that the electoral body will undertake supplementary registration from January 17 to March 31, 2022.
The notice also stated that it would allow the transfer of registration in accordance with Section 25 of the Electoral Act, which would also be available from the onset of supplementary registration. The IEC directed that all these activities are to take place at the offices of the Principal Registration Officers. However, the UDC and IEC secretary may be headed for a legal showdown after the former, through its lawyers Ramaotwana Attorneys, demanded that the electoral body should withdraw the notice as it is unlawful and totally unnecessary in view of the clear provisions of the Act.
In a letter of demand written to the IEC on Saturday, UDC attorney Nelson Ramaotwana said they hold instructions to take legal action to review the electoral body’s decision and have it set aside by the courts. In a series of accusations, the UDC said the IEC intentions are contrary to the Electoral Act’s intentions of guarding against ill-will.
It added that its 2019 general elections experience reflects that the IEC conducted the elections in total lack of fairness and impartiality and integrity. The UDC had petitioned the last polls, citing irregularities in conduct of the elections. “We demand an explanation of your conduct as we ask that you must withdraw your notice as it is unlawful and totally unnecessary in view of clear provisions of the Act,” stated Ramaotwana. Reflecting on some of the points, the UDC accuses the IEC of the appointment of “manifestly compromised and biased registration officers in favour of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)”. The UDC also accused the IEC secretary of failing to prevent fraudulent registration, but colluded with the BDP and the Directorate of Intelligence Security (DIC) to unlawfully register thousands of voters.
It is said the IEC secretary ceded all her functions in relation to the running of the 2019 general election to the DIS, whose agents also impersonated registration officers. Moreover, Ramaotwana said by imposing an arbitrary time period on a process, which the controlling legislation, being the Act, does not impose, any time to, is improper, unlawful and grossly irregular. “You wilfully gave false and misleading information to our client in regard to where the ballot papers used for the 2019 general elections were printed, stating that they were printed in South Africa, when all in truth and in fact, all or most, alternatively some of the ballot papers were printed at the Government printers under the supervision of the DIS.” The UDC also demanded that they be furnished with the names and details of all the Principal Registration Officers the IEC have appointed and the period when they were appointed.
“In the interest of fairness and transparency, you must also include where the officers are otherwise permanently employed and how their independence is thus assured, pursuant to the precepts we stated, fairness and impartiality,” demanded Ramaotwana.
The UDC said the notice of the IEC secretary does not come under Colour Section 12 of the Act; therefore it is improper and ultra vires the Act.