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Parliament rejects private members bill

16 Apr 2023

Parliament has rejected a private member’s bill calling for the amendment of the Electoral Act to allow for the use of indelible ink to mark voters during a general elections to manage possibility of multiple voting.

Thirty two Members of Parliament voted against the proposed amendment to the Electoral Act while 10 voted for and two members absconded.

Mahalapye West MP, Mr David Tshere recently presented the Electoral Amendment Bill No. 15 of 2022 which received mixed reactions hence the subsequent voting.

In his response to the legislators’ views and comments on the Bill, Mr Tshere said it was motivated by an Electoral Amendment Bill of 2003, which had requested for the discontinuation of indelible ink in the voting process.

“While it was used to identify potential cheat, the ink was to be discontinued as people were of the view it was a potential threat. As such, the use of ink was discontinued without any guidance from a medical expert,” he said.

He argued that in the past general elections, the last being in 1999, the indelible ink was used to place a long-lasting mark on a person’s finger who had voted to deter voting more than once.

Recollecting what had resulted in the abolition of using the indelible ink, Mr Tshere said there was fear that as individuals dipped their fingers in the ink after voting there was likelihood of spreading communicable diseases.

Mr Tshere said it was a normal process that children who had been vaccinated in various campaigns were marked using the same ink.

“Therefore, I am wondering why it is viewed as a health hazard when proposed to be used to mark voters. Why is the indelible ink used in children and only viewed as a health risk when used on elderly people on election day,” he said.

Supporting the proposed amendment, Francistown South MP, Mr Wynter Mmolotsi had said reintroducing the use of indelible ink was a welcome development in the electoral process.

“Some scores of society are suspicious of cheating therefore we owe it to the people to enact laws safeguarding democracy,” Mr Mmolotsi said.

He also argued that running of the elections where people suspected wrong resulted in revolt in some countries.

“Whether true or not, some sectors of the society with the perceptions that there was cheating at general elections will surely welcome the bill. Allowing for the use of the ink will guard against suspicions that some people have voted more than once.” he said.

For his part and speaking against the Bill, Gaborone Central MP, Mr Tumisang Mangwegape-Healy said the purple ink was last used in 2004 to mark those who had voted and was deemed unhygienic as it discoloured fingers and triggered swelling in some cases.

Mr Mangwegape-Healy said the law in place had considered some advanced processes that would guard against multiple voting. He said the electoral system had several and enough safe guards against multiple voting. “We are emerging from a pandemic, since the indelible ink was discontinued for health reasons, it will be an unfortunate situation to reintroduce it,” he argued.

He added that said all sorts of allegations would be made, but since the electoral laws were water tight, the alleged election fraud would never be substantiated.

Nata/Gweta MP, Mr Polson Majaga said with the use of a national identity card to distinguish a person from another, coupled with other legislative measures in place, multiple voting was not possible.

Mahalapye East MP, Mr Yandani Boko said some developed countries such as India were still using the indelible ink to mark those that had voted. Mr Boko said based on research there was no evidence that the indelible ink was of any harm to one’s health.

“It is clear that the ruling party members are only using their numbers to defeat the motion, ignoring the weight carried by the bill,” he said. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Moshe Galeragwe

Location : GABORONE


Date : 16 Apr 2023