Botswana: IEC Headache - Voter Transfer Requests

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is currently inundated by voters who want to be transferred to various constituencies across the country for several reasons, among them being voter trafficking. The Commission's Spokesperson, Osupile Maroba told The Patriot on Sunday that they started to receive influx of transfer requests after parliament went into recess last week.

"We have observed that many voters are flooding our offices across the country to try and request for transfers. We have realized that Batswana are confused, they think parliament has already been dissolved but the truth of the matter is that parliament is on recess and we are still waiting for President Mokgweetsi Masisi to officially dissolve the national assembly as per the country's constitution," Maroba pointed out. He stated that it is for the first time in the history of IEC that hordes of people want to get transfers from where they initially registered to vote at. The IEC spokesperson buttressed that the law empowers them to reject some transfer requests which are not supported by valid reasons. "We have realized that some of the voters are encouraged by third parties to request for transfers and that is totally wrong," he further held. Even though Maroba was reluctant to clearly mention the third parties involved, this publication is reliably informed that politicians who will be contesting for the forthcoming general elections are the once facilitating transfer requests in an effort to increase the numbers of electorates who might vote for them.

According to Maroba, once they thoroughly probe transfer applicants, the third parties start to point an accusing finger to the electoral commission adding that they are even suspicious that at times electorates do not want to transfer their registrations but they are compelled by third parties. "Currently I am not in a position to give you statistics of people who have already transferred from one constituency to another as we are in the process of compiling the data but I can confidently reveal that hordes of Batswana want transfers," Maroba averred.

In some cases, Maroba said electorates go to an extent of giving IEC false information in a desperate move to succeed in their transfer requests. Section 144 of the Electoral Act states that any person who knowingly registers at a polling station in respect of which he is not entitled to register or gives the registration officer wrong information has committed an offence. If found guilty by the court of law, the act stipulates that such an individual can be given a custodial sentence not exceeding two years. In the city of Francistown alone, IEC has already registered 187 voter transfer requests. The IEC will continue to facilitate transfer applications until President Masisi officially dissolves parliament.

Meanwhile, IEC continues to hold seminars with some members of the community across the country to inform and educate them about the procedure of casting a vote. While addressing the hearing impaired community at Tati River Lodge in Francistown, the commission's Secretary, Kereng Zuze said it is ideal that IEC engage stakeholders to share information on relevant procedures that all have to adhere to when participating in elections. "IEC strives to ensure that the electoral process is accessible to all eligible Batswana throughout the country. This is based on the notion that; the right to vote is a fundamental right to all citizens, irrespective of their religion, race, tradition, gender or status of disability," she proclaimed.

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