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Last Updated:22 May 2014
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* The Independent Electoral Commission of Botswana;

* Your Excellencies High Commissioner and Ambassadors of SADC Member States to the Republic of Botswana;

* Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps

* Esteemed Leaders of the Political Parties

* Esteemed Members of the various Observer Missions

* Esteemed Members of the Media

* Distinguished Invited Guests

* Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me a sense of honour and pleasure to welcome you all to this important event, the presentation of the SEOM preliminary Report the observation of the election process in the Republic of Botswana.


The election process in this country follows the coming to an end of the legislature set up in 2004 general and local elections and the consequent dissolution of the previous Parliament as it is in accordance with the Botswana Constitution Act on holding regularly parliamentary and local government elections.

In line with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, the Republic of Botswana invited SADC to observe its General Election that took place the last Friday, 16th October 2009.

Following the invitation, the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, His Excellency Armando Emilio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique constituted the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM) to the Republic of Botswana and mandated the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Tomaz Salomao, to facilitate administrative and logistical support of the Mission.

The Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation appointed Honourable, Henrique Banze – Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Mozambique to head the Mission.

The SADC Electoral Observer Mission was officially launched on 8th October 2009, by the Head of Mission, in the presence of the Executive Secretary of SADC, the Director of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, SADC Observers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Republic of Botswana and the Media.

The mission and role of the SADC Observers

When the SEOM was launched on 8th October 2009, we urged Observers to adhere to the Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections in performance of their duties. Emphasis was put on the following:

o That the observers must comply with the laws and regulations of the Republic of Botswana;

o That they should maintain strict impartially in the conduct of their duties, and that they should not express any bias to national authorities, parties and candidates contesting the election process;
o That information gathered should be attributable and verifiable for the assessment of the electoral process and its environment; and

o That they should work harmoniously with each other and other observer organizations in the area of deployment.


Guided by the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic elections, as its terms of reference, the Mission deployed 15 teams of observers to cover all the 57 constituencies in the country. Field teams were created and given the responsibility to cover their areas of deployment so that the Mission could have a full picture of the electoral process in the country and be in a position to provide an informed assessment.

There were a hundred and nineteen (119) (observers drawn from the SADC Member States. They comprised Members of Parliament, Civil Servants and representatives from the Civil Society. The activities of the SEOM across the country were coordinated at the Operations Centre based at Boipuso Hall, in Gaborone, Botswana. The operation Centre was staffed with officials from the Troika of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and the SADC Secretariat.

The formal deployment of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission was preceded by the SADC advance team which is constituted by the Diplomatic and Consular Missions accredited to the Republic of Botswana who laid the foundation for the formal and institutional Electoral Observer Mission.

After days of intensive work, the SADC Electoral Observer Mission has the honour to announce its preliminary views on the outcome of its observation. A detailed report addressing specific items of the terms of reference contained in the Principles and Guidelines shall be released within thirty (30) days after the announcement of the election’s results.


In discharge of its duties, the SEOM interacted with various stakeholders in order to gather information on various aspects of the electoral process. These included, inter alia:

1. the Ministry for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration;

2. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Labour;

3. Botswana Independent Electoral Commission (IEC);

4. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP);

5. The Botswana National party (BNF);

6. The Police Commission;

7. The MELS Movement of Botswana (MMB);

8. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP);

9. Representatives of SADC High Commissions and Ambassadors accredited to the Republic of Botswana;

10. The Botswana Council of Churches;

11. The Council of Non-Governmental Organizations of Botswana (BOCONGO);

12. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana Chapter;

13. International Observer Organizations;

14. SADC Parliamentary Forum; and

15. The Botswana National Youth Council – BNYC.

These interactions assisted the SEOM to understand the prevailing pre-election political environment in the country and wishes to highlight issues of concern expressed by some Stakeholders on the electoral process. These include, inter alia:

1. Complaints against the IEC by some political parties that it deliberately undermined their Parliamentary candidates for Gaborone Central by not allowing a substantial number of polling officers a separate day to cast their vote;

2. some political parties complained about a significant number of students who were registered voters but who were not going to vote because of writing exams on the Election Day;

3. Delays in printing ballot papers

4. Some political parties also expressed concern about the counting of parliamentary votes at district centres rather than at polling stations;

5. Some political parties expressed doubt about the autonomy, professionalism and impartiality of the IEC;

6. General desire for government funding of all political parties on equitable basis to level the playing field.

7. The declaration of the Election Day as an unpaid public holiday put people in dilemma, as they had to choose between losing that day’s pay and going to vote;

8. Alleged use of state resources;

9. Alleged acts of violence by supporters of some political parties were reported in limited incidents;

10. A media code of conduct was issued late, denying equitable coverage for all the contestants in the election;

11. Complaints by some opposition parties that the state media was based in favour of the ruling party.

The SEOM pursued these concerns in a systematic manner by conducting further investigations and sought clarification from relevant authorities. Some of the responses provided were as follows:

1. On the complaint against IEC by some political parties that it deliberately undermined their parliamentary candidates for Gaborone Central – the Mission noted that although this complaint was justified, it was however assured by the IEC that alternative measures were taken to overcome the challenge;

2. On the allegation of isolated acts of violence – the Mission was advised that the matter was treated in accordance with the relevant laws of the country;

3. On the complaint by some political parties hat the state media was biased in favour of the ruling party – the Mission observed that all parties were affected by the delay in issuing a media code of conduct;

4. The Mission observed that the dissatisfaction of opposition political parties regarding the impartiality and professionalism of IEC is not substantiated;

5. Counting of votes at District Centres by IECT – The Mission understands that this has been the practice in all previous elections in the country and that there have been no incidents to obstruct the process;

6. With regard to the declaration of the Polling Day as an unpaid public holiday having put voters in a dilemma – the Mission could not get evidence on the impact and that arrangements to overcome the issue were discussed and put in place where possible;

7. On the complaint raised by various stakeholders on the students writing the examinations not going to vote, the Mission found this to be a reasonable complaint. However, the Mission advises the Government of Botswana to take it into account in the future;

8. On the question of delays in the printing of ballot papers, the IEC confirmed and assured the public that everything was in order and that it did not affect the casing of the vote as every eligible voter had the opportunity to vote accordingly and;

9. On the question of funding, the political parties for campaigning – the Mission is of the view that his matter could be pursued through a national legislative process.

The SEOM has come to the conclusion that although some of the concerns raised were

Pertinent in the context of current electoral process, they were not of such magnitude to

substantially affect the credibility of the overall electoral process.


The pre-election phase was characterized by a peaceful political atmosphere, tolerance

And orderliness. In our view the IEC conducted its work in a transparent and

professional manner, despite some challenges which were addressed as the election

progresses. The SEOM admonishes the IEC to take into consideration the challenges in

the future.

Wish regard to general campaigning, the SEOM observed that all political parties were

free to hold rallies and meetings without any hindrance. There was a clear evidence of

vigour and enthusiasm within the political parties which they demonstrated in their

electoral campaigns.

The SEOM was assured that law enforcement agencies were poised to respond to any

threat or disruptions of the peaceful elections. The presence of Police Officers during

the rallies ensured that there were no disruptions and their role was seen as neutral and

supportive to the electoral cause.

All political parties had access to both private and state media, although certain political

parties expressed concern on the equitability of the media coverage in both electronic

and print.


Polling Process

It is the overall view of SADC that the elections were conducted in an open and

transparent manner. Most of the polling stations opened and closed on time.

SADC Mission was impressed by the patience of voters who were able to exercise their


peaceful, freely and unhindered. In all polling stations there were party agents, security

and the expected electoral management personnel. The electoral officials explained the

procedures to be followed.

However, the Mission noted that the polling process was generally slow. In this regard,

the Mission urges the IEC to look into the matter in future and to consider streaming the


Counting Process

The SEOM observed that the vote counting process did not being immediately after

closing of the polling stations, due to the fact that the ballot boxes for Parliamentary

elections were transferred from the polling station to the district centres where the votes

were to be counted.

The Mission noted that election officials were equally slow in administering the poll

which resulted in a delayed counting process. Stakeholders therefore, had to stay

overnight to the conclusion of counting and the presentation of the election results.

The Mission understood that the administering poll procedures were envisaging to

reinforce the transparency to the polling process. However, they influenced the rhythm

of the verification, accounting and the release of the final results.

With regard to the above referred observations, the Mission urges the IEC to consider adopting a simplified and voter friendly process.


In addition, the Mission wishes to register some observations on issues noted during the course of its duties. These include:

1. The late distribution of election materials to the designated areas, created the perception that the IEC was not adequately prepared;

2. Accreditation documents issued to observers were simple letters which could be easily destroyed or forged;

3. Voter with double registration were referred to the IEC to regularize the mistake; and

4. The names of the some voters could not be identified on the voters’ rolls which hindered them to exercise their duty of voting.


In view of the above referred observations, the SEOM recommends as follows:

1. The Botswana Independent Electoral Commission as well as other Stakeholders in the electoral process should prepare, plan and coordinate the electoral process in time to minute shortcomings;

2. Concerning the media coverage, the Republic of Botswana should consider enacting a media law which would better regulate the conduct of the media during election process;

3. The elections should be considered as a process. With continuous registration of voters, voter education and civic educations, amongst others;

4. The SEOM urge the IEC to address during the training of the returning officers the good practices of helping the visually-impaired by using Braille ballots;

5. In the future the IEC should review the counting process in order eliminate any delays in counting;

6. The IEC should consider using transparent ballot boxes as per SADC Guideline and Principles Governing Democratic Elections in the region.

7. The IEC should consider the use of indelible ink in the future elections.


In the course of observing elections, our Mission noted some best democratic practices in the Botswana electoral system that is highlighted hereunder:

* Peace and tranquility under which the Botswana exercised their franchise;

* Provision for voting for the visually-impaired by use of Braille ballots papers;

* Rapid and helpful replacement of the resigned returning officers;

* High degree of political tolerance by political parties;

* Commends the Botswana authorities for the changing regulation on the age for voter registration from age 21 to age 18 which enhanced and increased the participation of the citizens in the election;

* Also commends the stakeholders in the elections for their contribution in encouraging young people to participate in the electoral process.


The Mission is honoured to share its observations with the people of Botswana and hopes that the relevant stakeholders benefit there from.

Therefore, on behalf of the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President of Republic of Mozambique His Excellency Armando Emilio Guebuza, and on behalf of the entire SADC family, I wish to heartily congratulate the people of Botswana for holding a credible, peaceful, free and fair elections on 16 October 2009.

Indeed, the way that the people of Botswana have been able to express their will in an impressively instructive manner, is a valuable contribution for the consolidation of democracy and political stability, not only in Botswana but in the SADC region as well as in the African Continent at large.

In line with SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and the Electoral Code of Botswana, the Mission would like to urge all political parties and candidates to respect the will of the people and any grievances that they might have should be pursued in line with the relevant laws of the country.

I thank you all.

Gaborone, 18 October 2009
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