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- Voter registration deferment communication may have reached some centres late
- Registration centres abroad likely affected
- IEC aware of such possibilities
- Those registered will have their cards cancelled
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has admitted that by the time the message differing the national voter registration exercise of November 1 – 30, to November 13 to December 8, following an interim court order, reached all registration centres, some voters may already had been registered.
In fact, it has become apparent through social media that indeed some people managed to register early Wednesday morning before the registration centres received the communication. With some areas lying in the remote parts of the country, with communication challenges, reality is that there may be higher numbers of those registered on November 1.
IEC Public Relations Officer Osupile Maroba told The Ngami Times that they are aware such instances may have occurred, though they are still to receive the verified information.
Maroba, was however quick to point out that this would not be a challenge for the commission, as those registered after deferment will be cancelled once the registration period opens on November 13, and then registered accordingly.
“Those who were registered on November 1 before our registration clerks received the deferment message, will be contacted to surrender the voter registration cards for cancellation, then registered,” Maroba said.
He said due to the vastness of some areas and the difficult terrains, communication challenges, some areas may have received the communication very late after they had started registration.
Maroba also said some embassies and missions abroad may have been affected, with information reaching them late after they had started the registration processes owing to the time differences in the continents they are in.
“All these instances will be treated the same way when the fresh process starts on November 13,” he said.
To all intents and purposes, the registration period may further be moved ahead should any of the two parties, UDC and IEC feel the high court judgement on November 7 does not favour them. This would lead to an appeal, which would then lay down a verdict that would then have to treated as law and implemented.
Following the interim court order ruling for the IEC to allow UDC to deploy observers in the national voter registration process, the commission thereafter postponed the process.
The UDC had filed the urgent application with the High Court seeking an interdict order against the IEC following its refusal to allow the party to deploy observers during the registration period.
“The Respondent is directed and ordered to allow the Applicant to observe and monitor the national elections registration exercise. Including having Applicant’s agents mentioned in 1.1. above recording the names and national identity card numbers of the people registering to vote and recording the serial numbers of the Batch and every registration day at the opening and closing thereof,” the Francistown High Court Judge ruled.
The UDC coalition claimed the ruling Botswana Democratic Party rigged the 2019 general elections in cohort with IEC and the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DISS) hence such measures to oversee the process from the beginning.
In light of the order of court granting the UDC leeway to have observers during voter registration exercise, the IEC then resolved to postpone the voter registration process to the 13th of November 2023. The process was supposed to have commenced from the 1st to the 30th of November, 2023.
The case will continue on the 7th of October 2023 where IEC is expected to show cause why the interim order should not be made final.