EVM transition to cost taxpayer P150 million

Kealeboga Botshabelo

The Independent Electoral Commission(IEC) has revealed that implementing the amended electoral act which President Ian Khama recently assented to, will need an estimated budget of P150 million. The money will be used by the commission to amongst other things procure electronic voting machines (EVMs), as well as conducting consultative meetings with different stakeholders around the country.

Briefing the media this week, Seeletso said following the amendment of the Electoral Act, in the last parliament sitting, and subsequent signing by the President, the commission is left with an obligation and duty bound to implement the law. He said they have not procured any machines that will be used, as they are working on the specifications, upon which they will call on for interested parties to express interest as per the PPADB procurement laws. Seeletso is hopeful that they will get a budget in the coming National Development Plan (NDP) 11. Seeletso also said the machines they are hoping to acquire will give them value for money.

He said the EVMs that they are anticipating to acquire will not be computer based, or require electricity to function, but instead use battery. “Because of that they will be easy to use anywhere across the country even in places without power from national grid,” he said He said the machines will be secure, reliable and simple to use, meeting Botswana’s adverse geographical conditions. On other reforms Seeletso said going forward there shall be only one registration window without supplementary period of which the timing and duration will be determined by the commission.

He further said they will make intensive voter education hoping for collaboration with political parties, and other stakeholders to ensure that the public register. Seeletso also dismissed media reports that there could be a company that is earmarked to provide the EVMs as untrue. He said the machines will have no room for rigging or cheating as some suspect.

On the consultations before the electoral act was amended, Seeletso said as the commission they can only talk about it after the president signed the bill into a law. He however said they have since conducted meetings with political parties, adding that going forward they hope to have other meetings in the 57 constituencies addressed by him, while Principal Election officers will do the others in the 490 polling districts. Seeletso however could not commit a date they hope to start using the machines, indicating that, it will be after the minister responsible has gazetted it.