The Voice (Botswana)


The only thing you are going to benchmark in Zimbabwe is how to rig elections - Ookeditse


THIS week, a post from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’S X (Twitter) account sparked controvers­y after it showed a delegation from Botswana’s Independen­t Electoral Commission on a benchmarki­ng mission to Zimbabwe.

The trip, which the IEC had not informed the nation about, raised eyebrows considerin­g the reputation Zimbabwe has when it comes to allegation­s of election rigging.

The Voice Reporter, DANIEL CHIDA, speaks to party leaders to get their views on the controvers­ial trip.


I believe benchmarki­ng should be an exercise that is aimed at trying to acquire the characteri­stics of the place or the organisati­on from which you are benchmarki­ng. For instance, if the BFA wants to benchmark on the best team in Africa, maybe they could start with Ivory Coast, and whatever Ivory Coast is doing right they could try to emulate. Now, for the IEC to be seen to be wanting to emulate ZEC is just wrong and it will end in tears.


The key thing is that this is becoming one of too many coincidenc­es because we heard that President Mokgweetsi Masisi met with President Emmerson Mnangagwa over the weekend and one of the key things was the commitment by the two to free movement of people between the two countries. Anyone who lives in this part of the world knows what Zimbabwe is like and what the impact is likely to be to let Zimbabwean­s cross over using their national identity cards. It will get rid of our border controls and lead to an influx of Zimbabwean­s. You cannot have a situation where the IEC, which is also embattled, goes to benchmark in Zimbabwe when the opposition and other rightthink­ing Batswana are worried about the integrity of the electoral process in the country. The only thing you are going to benchmark in Zimbabwe is how to rig elections and mismanage the electoral process. How do we have a commission that has been in the court refusing to allow other players in the game the right to observe elections and then go and benchmark in Zimbabwe? The opposition has been saying that Zimbabwean­s are likely to be allowed to vote in the elections using identity cards and the same cards which we know the DIS has been granted the right to print. The only thing we can note here is that they are in a course on how to help the BDP stay in power at a time when they are about to lose power.


The BCP calls on Masisi and Justice Nyamazabo to consult their conscience; and to leave Botswana out of their dubious relationsh­ip with the President of Zimbabwe. The benchmarki­ng visit is disturbing on all fronts and is a rude awakening to all of Batswana, at home, and in the diaspora. It is now apparent that the Masisi administra­tion is committed to driving Botswana to a state of near collapse, because of incompeten­ce and corruption. The administra­tion is also now losing all sense of patriotism, and pride in our citizenshi­p and what defines us as a people. All Batswana are now compelled to wake up to the reality that Masisi and his government will do any and everything in their reach to cling on to power by rigging the 2024 elections. The BCP would like to bring the attention of the public to the following: Zimbabwe recently emerged from controvers­ial elections that were plagued by rigging as per the SADC observer mission report. The report stated that Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections fell short of the requiremen­ts for free and fair elections by the SADC guidelines. Notwithsta­nding the report, ZANU PF went right ahead and declared itself a winner. Showing clearly that ZANU PF leadership neither sees nor respects SADC.

Before the ink had dried on the SADC report, Masisi dispatched a congratula­tory message to Harare. This, he did, disregardi­ng SADC, an entity that for all intents and purposes, Botswana leads. Had sanity prevailed, Masisi would have waited for SADC to sit and ponder on the report from their structure, before rushing to hug his friend, but alas! This was not only strange but a total departure from the basics of Botswana’s foreign policy fundamenta­ls; which include respect for the rule of law and a commitment to democratic principles. Batswana watched in dismay, mouths agape, as other nations that have integrity, shied away from endorsing fraud, which was a continuati­on of the violent rape of the Zimbabwean democracy.

Benchmarki­ng means precisely that; an acknowledg­ment that a country has an impressive practice worth emulating. This makes true the adage, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” We do not doubt that there is only one worthwhile lesson to learn from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission; how to steal elections.

We further call on Batswana to be cognizant that in Masisi we have a bulldozer, a man who ignores all the rules and establishe­d norms and processes to get all he wants. This, he has manifested, via several decisions he has made since assuming office. We have a power monger to whom nothing else matters, except what he wants. We are just awakening to the reality that not even the reputation of this country matters to him. Batswana need to do all they can to salvage what is left of our beloved country. This will end very badly for him.

The Commission would like to inform members of the public and all its stakeholde­rs that these accusation­s are inaccurate and untruthful. In the Commission’s assessment, the accusation­s are merely based on unfounded suspicion, belief and fear unnecessar­ily held by some of the Commission’s stakeholde­rs who peddle them.

The truth that Batswana should know is that ZEC is a member of the Electoral Commission Forum of Southern African Countries (ECF-SADC). This is a network of all Election Management Bodies (EMBS) in

Southern Africa, where member Commission­s meet to have an interchang­e of technical support and share experience­s on best practices. In this context, in February 2023, Botswana visited sister EMBS in Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, and India to benchmark on electronic voters’ registrati­on, to prepare for the eventual transition from manual registrati­on to electronic registrati­on.

Now, relating to the IEC’S visit to the ZEC, it is true that on Monday the 12th of February 2024, the Commission dispatched its manager responsibl­e for voter education and the chief public relations officer to the Republic of Zimbabwe to specifical­ly look at the ZEC’S Accreditat­ion Machine for Election Observers. This is the machine used to churn out accreditat­ion cards for persons who come to observe elections in the country.

Currently, the IEC accredits both local and internatio­nal election observers manually and this is not efficient. The ZEC’S accreditat­ion machine has been hailed as the best in various reports, in terms of expeditiou­s issuance of the accreditat­ion cards. Therefore, the IEC’S idea is to see what the ZEC has and compare with what other countries in the region have, to see what can work for us in Botswana, as the Commission prepares for the 2024 General Elections. There is, therefore, no benchmarki­ng trip by the IEC to Zimbabwe aimed at learning how to rig an election as alleged. The IEC cannot and will not rig elections. Lastly, the IEC is still appealing to all its stakeholde­rs to verify and check facts directly with either its Secretary or the Public Relations Unit before issuing categorica­l statements on matters relating to its mandate.


 ?? ?? SCREENSHOT­S: S ZEC T Twitts itt

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