Observer missions to the 2019 Botswana general elections from the continent have hailed this year’s polls as credible and a fair reflection of the will of the people.They are the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) observers.
Briefing the media , the two continental bodies stated in their preliminary statements that the elections were held in a fair and transparent manner.
Briefing the media, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Sibusiso Moyo, who is the head of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission lauded the election process for being transparent.
He said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) managed the elections efficiently and delivered on the establishment of 2 296 polling stations ahead of the elections.
“These included 36 polling stations outside Botswana, to cater for the diaspora vote in 20 countries in Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia,” he said.
Moyo said that political parties were involved in the nominations of five individuals appointed to the IEC by the Judicial Services Commission, which indicated stakeholder participation in the composition of the election management body.
Mono said they found that the media played a positive role in ensuring that different political parties were evenly covered and their messages could reach the electorate in order to allow them to make an informed decision.
“The mission observed a tremendous improvement in the manner with which state-owned media covered the contesting parties and candidates when compared to the situation in the 2014 general elections. State-owned media gave unbiased coverage to the campaign events of all relevant political stakeholders. Private radio stations also provided live political debates across the country, and for the first time, the public broadcaster, Botswana Television (Btv) aired a live debate of the four presidential candidates,” Moyo said.
He added that the atmosphere on election day was ‘orderly, calm and peaceful’ at all poling stations and that IEC officers were professional in the execution of their duties.
The head of the AU Electoral Observer Mission to the Botswana general elections, former vice president of Gambia, Jallow Fatoumata, also said her team had observed that the electoral process had been credible and fair.
But she shared some of the concerns aired by SADC, which include low female representation among the parliamentary candidates, the need for the youth and people with disabilities to be more involved in the electoral process, extensive voter education, party political adding that external funding of political parties could compromise the nation’s sovereignty.