The North West District Council has passed a motion requesting the Ministry of State President to consider both poling agents and ballot boxes to share transport coming from polling stations to the counting point during general elections.
During the elections each contesting political party brings two of its own agents at a polling station who are tasked to observe the voting process to ensure that the elections are fair. One agent takes responsibility of the councillor’s ballot box while the other takes that of the Member of Parliament’s ballot box.
Usually the agents would ride their own cars which will follow the other one carrying ballot boxes from the voting station to the counting point.
In his motion, Sankoyo/Shorobe councillor Oabile Chombo is of the view that the appointed agents should not be out of sight of the ballot boxes until they reach the counting station to ensure that the election are free and fair for all.
He highlighted the 2019 general elections ballot box saga which was discovered by a cleaner hidden in the toilet of the election’s preceding officer.
Chombo argued that though amendments have always been made to the electoral act, he has noted that the act has been silent on whether the election agents should be transported with the ballot boxes in the same vehicle or not. The councillor stated that given the previous saga it is imperative for the act to be clear that agents should accompany the ballot boxes and they should not be out of their sight for a fair election for all.
He noted that this arrangement will avoid situations where the car carrying ballot boxes arrives at the station minutes before those that carry agents adding that those minutes the car is out of their site no one knows what may transpire.
“During the 2019 elections I used my car to transport observers, we arrived and hour apart with the car carrying ballot boxes, within that hour I believe it was very possible for the ballot boxes to be tempered with,” said Chombo.
Boro councillor Kenson Kgaga who also shared the same sentiments with Chombo emphasized that the modes of transport used should the ones that are able to transports both the agents and the ballot boxes. He highlighted that most areas such as Jao Flats which require a chopper to transport the ballot boxes need a bigger aircraft for agents to be part of the team dispatching the boxes to the counting station.
The motion was also endorsed by Makalamadebi councillor Moetetsi Mogalakwe who indicated that if implemented people will be assured that the boxes where note tempered with hence a fair election for all.
Meanwhile Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Maun office Manager Khumo Lebang indicated that if it is possible to carry both the agents with ballot boxes there is no problem noting that their priority during elections is for the ballot boxes to arrive safely at the counting station.
He however indicated that the only problem is that the car used to transport ballot boxes usually does not have enough space as the police, preceding officer, poling officer must accompany the ballot boxes hence leaving no space for poling agents. Lebang however advised councillors to provide the agents with transport to ensure that they follow the ballot box car until it reaches the counting station.