Francistown Principal Elections Officer, Ms Patricia Mmoloke has appealed to members of the Party Liaison Committee (PLC) to ensure the smooth running of the Francistown West Bye-elections billed for January 25, 2014.
Addressing the PCL on December 17, Ms Mmoloke said the circumstances prior to the elections attracted world-wide attention and there was need to be more vigilant with regard to the conduct of the bye- election.
She explained that though all elections were conducted in a prudent manner the Francistown West bye election needed to be done in an even more meticulous manner looking at the events that transpired. Ms Mmoloke appealed to the PLC to report promptly to her office promptly any activity that they felt contradicted the Electoral Act during the bye election so appropriate action could be taken.
She assured the committee that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was prepared for the bye-election and refresher training for polling staff would be conducted. She further explained that during the bye-election a total of 38 polling stations in Francistown West Constituency would. The same stations were used in 2009.
Ms Mmoloke also informed the committee that out of the over 98 000 people in Francistown, only 17 683 registered during the general elections registration that took place from Oct 4-27. She said a total of 4 916 voters registered in Francistown East while 6 677 and 6 090 registered in Francistown West and Francistown South constituencies respectively.
Ms Mmoloke observed that the low voter turnout could not be attributed to lack of voter education as some of the people revealed that they were waiting for the supplementary registration. She urged members of the PCL to encourage people to register for elections in large numbers during the supplementary registration that will be conducted from February 21- March 2 next year.
She also revealed as part of its efforts to educate voters, IEC had appointed a youth ambassador for each constituency to do voter education particularly during the youth edutainment activities. The ambassador also acts as a link between the youth and her office.
Botswana People's Party (BPP) Secretary General, Mr Shathiso Tambula suggested that voters who register during the supplementary exercise should fill a questionnaire that will help establish why people waited to register during the supplementary exercise.
Tati Town Deputy Court President, Kgosi Edward Showa appealed to political parties to encourage their followers to register for the general elections in large numbers.
Mr Godknows Robby of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) called on the IEC to ensure that the youth ambassadors were oriented in political issues and that they did not align themselves to any political party to avoid confusion.
Mr Samuel Moribame of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) noted that during registration, political parties could not assist IEC to encourage people to register because they were preparing for their primary elections.
In response, Ms Mmoloke assured the committee that the youth ambassadors would not discuss any issue aligned to party politics and she would give them a guideline on what to discuss. Officer Commanding for No.1 district, Senior Superintendent, Israel Tuelo commended the parties for their conduct during rallies. He however appealed to them to adhere to the times stipulated in their permits.
The National and Civil Registration Assistant Director (North), Ms Ofentse Gojamang complained about uncollected ID cards saying already there were over 2 000 at her office. She expressed concern that those who did not collect their ID cards would not be able to register or vote.