Botswana’s 2014 General Elections credibility is under threat after it was discovered that the national voters roll was compromised just few days before the country goes to elections on Friday.
The Patriot on Sunday investigations reveal that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) realised that some attempts could have been made to manipulate the voters roll.
Sources at the electoral body say some of the voters’ names have been misplaced and transferred to polling stations that they have not registered at or worse still to different wards and constituencies that they (voters) have not stayed at nor are familiar with.
Since last week, IEC staff are said to have been running helter and skater to try and normalise the situation, which could disfranchise a lot of voters. “We fear that some people might have infiltrated our system and messed up the voters roll,” said the source.
The manual system that is being used by the IEC is said to be prone to loopholes and some might have found ways of using it to rig the elections.
“The problem is not confined to a certain constituency or ward but is nationwide and is proving difficult to contain because we are using a manual system,” said the source.
In one instance, more than half of voters at Nxamasera/Samochima ward, which has 1 710 voters have been misplaced. The ward is in Okavango constituency.
Those who were supposed to cast their vote at Samuchima mobile stop have their names been moved to Nxamsera Primary School.
Another constituency where the problem is more prevalent is in Sefhare/Ramokgonami constituency.
There is fear among IEC leadership, according to our source, that the abnormalities that are in the voters roll might lead to some losing candidates refusing to accept results.
He said that they are worried that some people might find an excuse to resort to violence when their preferred candidate loses.
The problem that the IEC is facing with the voters roll is said to be similar to what Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) faced during their primary elections, which led to some losing candidates complaining that some of their supporters were deliberately removed from the voters roll.
Some of the BDP staff members at Tsholetsa House were later detained by the police after it was discovered that they colluded with some candidates to doctor the voters roll.
Some of the parliamentary candidates were later recalled due to the issue include Elijah Katse in Tlokweng and Christian Nthuba of Gaborone Bonnington South.
IEC spokesperson, Osupile Maroba dispelled fears that some people might find their names not in the voters roll noting that it is water under the bridge.
“Yes, we used to have the problem but there isolated cases. It has been corrected and our voters roll is in a good state,” he said.
Asked what caused the problem, Maroba said that the problem emanated when they were giving polling stations code numbers. Some names were misplaced.
“It is a human error that can happen especially when people are tired but like I said we have corrected the abnormality,” he said.
Vote trafficking is another factor that the IEC is worried about, especially in these elections, said Maroba adding that there have been high numbers of vote transfers this year.
“We have raised the issue with all political parties, because we have never experienced this kind of phenomenon in the history of Botswana elections and is very worrying,” he said.
The IEC spokesperson said that the issue is prevalent in urban areas especially in Gaborone constituencies and in major towns and villages.
He could not state the number of people who transferred their votes and also could not say which constituency is leading reasoning that they have already consolidated the voters roll.
TOP 10 CONSTITUENCIES WITH HIGHEST VOTERS
Mochudi West - 21 229
Kanye South 18719
Kanye North 18 625
Constituencies that may produce surprises
The battle in the constituency is between Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) candidate, Phenyo Butale but the two might find themselves trailing behind Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidate Rupert Hambira.
There are fears that there might have been a lot of voter trafficking in the constituency during the transfer period.
13 922 people have registered to vote in Gaborone Central on the 24th of October 2014.
Gaborone Bonnington North
Political pundits have given the constituency to UDC President Duma Boko with Annah Motlhagodi as offering a formidable challenge but sources within IEC has revealed that it is one of the constituencies that received a high number of vote transfers.
BDP might retain it though its candidate Robert Masitara has been complaining of lack of support from the party leadership. His launch was held yesterday.
16 588 voters are expected to cast their vote in the constituency to determine their parliamentary representative.
This is one constituency that BCP, through Bagalatia Aarone is sure of retaining but he might find himself in the Botswana Red Cross emergency tent erected at the counting centre, being attended to for shock. It is one of the constituencies that have seen most of voters’ names misplaced.
This is one of the constituencies that BDP wants to win as it is one of the prime tourism areas through Kambimba Mbaha.
Some 15 333 people have registered to vote in the Okavango constituency.