BATSWANA WANT SUPPLEMENTARY REGISTRATION

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BATSWANA WANT SUPPLEMENTARY REGISTRATION
BATSWANA WANT SUPPLEMENTARY REGISTRATION

Africa-Press – Botswana. After the voter registration exercise for this year’s general elections ended on Saturday, a number of Batswana have called for a supplementary registration period, to accommodate those who were unable to register during the initial registration period.

Some of the reasons cited for missing the initial registration window include illness, work commitments and lack of information about the registration process.

Some cited the Temo Letlotlo programme as a factor that prevented them from registering.

These individuals feel that they should be given a second chance to register and participate in the upcoming elections.

A resident of Matsitama, Mr Tetelo Kebatshabile pointed out that Temo Letlotlo was launched during the same period as the registration window, and many farmers opted to focus on the programme to make a living.

“Temo Letlotlo, which aims to improve food security and living standards for farmers, was a priority for me and I was unable to register as a result,” said Mr Kebatshabile. He argued that Temo Letlotlo was faced with many challenges such as inadequate resources, and poor communication with farmers.

“The impact of these challenges on farmers, and how they led to the programme taking up a lot of their time and energy, left little time to register to vote,” he added.

Another farmer, Mr Mothusi Kutuso of Paje shared the sentiments, saying Temo Letlotlo was plagued by challenges and delays, taking up valuable time and energy from farmers.

“I think the challenges of Temo Letlotlo may have played a role in the low voter registration across the country,” he stated.

Mr Kutuso, however, disclosed that he registered on the last day, which he said was not ideal as it often led to long queues.

For his part, Mr Kenneth Moseki of Makobo, who registered early when the registration exercise opened, dismissed people who say they did not register because they were unsure of their preferred candidates as political parties had not held their primary elections.

“This is not a valid reason to miss the registration window. Even if political parties have not yet announced their primary election results, there are still many benefits to registering and participating in the elections,” he added.

“I knew that as a government employee, I might have no chance to register and I used my day off to do so. I also considered that there is no guarantee that there will be a supplementary registration.”

Meanwhile, Francistown-based principal election officer, Ms Itumeleng Gabaake said registration was not just about voting in the general election.

Ms Gabaake explained that registration could also be used for other purposes such as bye-elections and referendums.

“A bye-election may be necessary if a sitting Member of Parliament or councillor passes away or resigns, and a referendum is a way for citizens to directly vote on a specific issue,” said Ms Gabaake.

She explained that by registering to vote, one ensures that they have the ability to participate in all aspects of the democratic process, not just the general elections.

“I encourage people to see the benefits of registering beyond the general elections,” stated Ms Gabaake.

She disclosed that the numbers of people registering were very low at the beginning of the exercise, but tripled on the last week.

Ms Gabaake said that Francistown South registered 8 926, Francistown East 7 266, while Francistown West had the highest number of registered voters at 10 020.

She observed that there was a significant decrease in the number of people who registered to vote for the 2024 general elections as compared to those who voted in the 2019 general election.

Ms Gabaake noted that in the 2019 general elections, the number of eligible voters who showed up at polling stations was 26 435.

She stated that in some instances, her office had observed that there was lack of awareness on new constituency boundaries.

She disclosed that to prevent voter confusion, registration officers were equipped with clear locations and maps, to assist voters in determining their registration areas.

dailynews

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