Voter apathy to continue councilors
Published July 5th 2007 in Botswana Press Agency (BOPA)
JWANENG - Voter apathy, which characterises Botswana polls, is set to continue if government does not introduce certain reforms. Commenting after an Independent Electoral Commissions (IEC) address, recently, Jwaneng Town councillors said government has ignored the findings of a post 2004 elections study on voter apathy.

The study, they said, recommended some reforms that could entice Batswana to vote. Cllr Tlhabologo Phori said, the study showed that Batswana are in favour of proportional representation as opposed to the current first-past-the-post system.

He said the study also indicated that Batswana want direct election for the head of state.

Cllr Phori said if the suggested reforms are not implemented then voter apathy would continue.

Deputy mayor of Jwaneng, Cllr Moshe Gare echoed the same sentiments. He contended that many Batswana do not vote because they do not see the reason of voting in strongholds of parties they do not favour.

He said an electorate wanting to vote for Botswana Democratic Party in Jwaneng will lack motivation while someone intending to vote for Botswana National Front in Serowe will also lack motivation because his or her vote will not have an impact.

Cllr Gare said proportional representation can motivate more Batswana to take elections very seriously.

Cllr Balikani Basiami condemned donations and hand outs that are often issued by people with direct interest in elections ahead of the voting day.

He said this is in essence buying votes.

He challenged the IEC to act on this practice.

Responding to their comments, IEC principal elections officer, Mr Mokane Mudongo, said some of the issues raised did not fall within the IEC mandate.

He however, said factors that lead to voter apathy must be tackled by all stakeholders.

Mr Mudongo said councilors should play their part by pushing for reforms they believe could facilitate the better running of elections.

Earlier, Mr Mudongo had asked councilors to encourage Batswana who have valid Omang and are 18 or above to register for the 2009 national elections.

Mr Mudongo also told councilors that, the ICE and the National Registration office are worried that many Batswana fail to collect their Omang cards.