Umbrella for Democratic Change President Calls for Transparency and Integrity in the Electoral Process

In a strongly-worded letter addressed to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Advocate Duma Gideon Boko, President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has laid out a series of concerns and demands regarding the integrity of the upcoming general elections in Botswana. Boko's letter, which was made public today, highlights critical issues related to voter registration, data management, and stakeholder involvement.

The letter begins with a clear statement of Boko's vested interest in the electoral process as a major participant and stakeholder, emphasizing the importance of fairness, credibility, impartiality, propriety, and transparency, all of which are enshrined in Botswana's Constitution and Electoral Act.

One of the primary concerns raised by Boko revolves around the electronic data management system employed by the IEC. He questions the integrity and reliability of this system, particularly in the generation of voters' rolls, which play a crucial role in the electoral process. Boko points out instances of irregularities in voter registration, including registration officers taking registration booklets home overnight, a practice that has raised concerns about the accuracy of voter data.

Furthermore, Boko expresses worries about discrepancies between the certified voters' roll and a mysterious "Master Roll" during the 2019 General Elections. He insists that any electronic data storage and retrieval system used by the IEC should be subject to scrutiny through forensic audits, and the activities and events within the system should be open for examination by stakeholders.

Boko also demands answers regarding the IEC's data management system, including details about the system's supplier, installation date, service level agreements, and personnel with access rights. Additionally, he calls for an end to the practice of allowing registration officers to take registration booklets home.

The UDC President's concerns extend to voter registration monitoring and oversight. He insists on the presence of UDC's own election registration clerks to observe and verify the voter registration process to ensure full compliance with the Electoral Act. Boko dismisses claims that such monitoring is not provided for in the law and is prepared to enforce this demand in the courts if necessary.

Boko's letter also delves into the deployment of operatives from the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) during the 2019 General Elections, highlighting instances of DIS involvement in various aspects of the electoral process. He demands information about the IT specialist responsible for manipulating the IEC data management system and the circumstances surrounding their transfer.

Lastly, Boko underscores the need for transparency and fairness in the recruitment and appointment of officers under the Electoral Act, citing instances of known ruling party activists being appointed as Presiding Officers in recent elections.

The letter concludes with a call for the IEC to recognize the UDC as a crucial partner and stakeholder in the electoral process and to ensure that it upholds the highest standards of integrity in the upcoming elections.

As Botswana prepares for its next general elections, Duma Boko's letter serves as a stark reminder of the critical importance of transparency and fairness in the electoral process and the need for all stakeholders to actively engage in ensuring the integrity of the democratic system.