Writer | Mbaki Kelaiwe
Published Online | 2-3-2018
Published Physical Copies | 28-2-2018

The Independent Electoral Commission spokesperson, Osupile Maroba has said that the process to procure electronic voting machines for the upcoming 2019 general elections has been put on-hold until the Botswana Congress Party court case on the machines has been concluded.

Maroba said the electoral body awaits the outcome of the BCP court case, which seeks to block the use of EVMs in Botswana, before they can proceed.

“The court will in the end decide on whether we can proceed with the EVMs or not,” he said.
While there have been suspicions that government, through the IEC is now planning on introducing the machines with a voter verifiable paper audit trail, Maroba said if that was to happen, a Bill will be presented in Parliament so that it decides whether to purchase the machines or not.

There were also suspicions that the IEC may have already purchased or in the process of procuring the machines.
The IEC spokesperson also said the public education campaign they have been conducting regarding the EVMs has already been completed, though he could not divulge much of the findings of the public education.
“The process was to alert Batswana about the possibilities of using the EVMs in the 2019 general elections,” added Maroba.

Without divulging much, Maroba said they realised that Batswana differ when it comes to the use of the EVMs. He said some agree with the use of the EVMs while others are completely against their use. He said there is nothing they can do as the IEC because there are relevant institutions like the courts and Parliament which can decide on the way forward.

Meanwhile, Botswana Congress Party President, Dumelang Saleshando said whether the government introduces a second machine (VVPAT) or stick to the original one, they will not abandon their efforts to block their use.
“There are some moves by government to amend the law as they have challenged it to introduce a second machine, but you don’t correct faults by bringing in a second machine,” he added. Saleshando added that even if the machine will produce ballot papers showing how one voted, it is still not different from a normal ballot paper.

The BCP President further said there is no need for the machine to be introduced, adding that BCP will continue to oppose their use, with or without VVPAT. He said the party’s lawyers are now in contact with experts on issues of the Electronic Voting Machines to prove that they can be hacked.

Saleshando stated that even where the machines come from, they have been hacked before. He further stated that they have explained their rejection of the EVM to their members and they understand it very well. He said their focus at the moment is on the court case, and if they fail they will mobilise the international community who just recently advised against the DRC using EVMs, to strongly advise Botswana against using them.
“We will mobilise public rejection of the EVM because it will compromise the integrity of the elections,” Saleshando further stated.