Apathy hits Bots voter registration


Gaborone Botswana’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has expressed concern that the majority of the eligible voters have not shown interest to register for the general election billed for October this year.

The IEC’s concerns follow a supplementary registration exercise that ended on Sunday in which less than 600 000 eligible voters registered.

Therefore, the IEC said it is likely to conduct yet another supplementary voter registration for the general elections after a low turnout during the just-ended registration.

The IEC had targeted to capture about 80 percent of the 1.2m eligible voters but could only register 50 percent.

IEC spokesperson, Osupile Maroba, said in interview that after low turnout during the just-ended registration, another supplementary voter registration exercise is highly possible.

Maroba said that in the last general elections, their target was 700 000 adding that the increase in their target was motivated by new figures from the population census.

He said the country has a population of 2.4 million and out of that number, 1.4 million were eligible to vote, hence the targeted 1.2 million.

As the IEC, Maroba said, they were worried by the recent low turnout at the voters’ registration. He said in the first voter registration exercise held in October last year they registered 478 148 voters.

“We were hoping to close the gap with the just-ended supplementary registration but the turnout was very low,” he said.

According to Maroba, if the figure of the just-ended supplementary registration is less than 100 000, then the total figure for the eligible voters for the upcoming general elections would be 500 000.

It is against that background, Maroba said, that the IEC was expected to meet this week to map the way forward. “Such a small number of people who have registered to vote should worry us because it also affects our democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament across the political divide have amended and passed a motion requesting government to facilitate extension of the current voters registration and immediately allocate resources to Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to undertake a robust and effective voter registration campaign.

The motion, amended by Leader of the House and Vice President, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe was tabled by MP for Shoshong, Mr Phillip Makgalemele.

The motion initially requested government to extend the current voter registration by an additional two weeks and allocate adequate resources to IEC to ensure a robust and effective voter registration campaign.

When debating the motion on February 28, Makgalemele said the supplementary voter registration, which started on February 22 to March 2, did not produce positive results because of low numbers of people who had registered in all constituencies.

He said the situation was caused by having not allocated IEC adequate resources to publicise the voter registration campaign, which contributed to poor response from the nation.

Botswana like South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia, will also hold national elections this year.

March 2014
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