interim statement
EISA Observer Mission 2004 Botswana parliamentary and local government elections (continued)

3.2. Funding of political parties

It is universally recognised that money may have undue influence on a country's politics. Many countries are reviewing their laws to provide for the compulsory disclosure of private funding to political parties and candidates. Regarding public funding of parties, it would be preferable that political parties, in particular those represented in Parliament, be funded by the State as a way of supporting democracy. This would have the effect of levelling the playing field and minimising the adverse impact of private funding on politics.

The mission encourages the people of Botswana to consider introducing such reforms in a manner that they may deem fit.

3.3 Electoral system: Inclusivity and representation of women

The First-Past-the-Post electoral system used in Botswana has been found in a number of countries to lead to under-representation of women and losing parties.

The SADC Declaration on Gender and Development of 1997 provides for a minimum 30% representation of women in decision-making positions by the year 2005. The mission is concerned by the low number of women candidates, which presupposes that Botswana will be unable to meet this minimum requirement. The adoption of the single member plurality electoral system exacerbates this situation.

The mission recommends a review of the electoral system to accommodate the need for a more balanced gender and political party representation.

3.4. Date of Elections

There is a general move within the SADC region to make a constitutional provision for the election date. The Mission therefore recommends that Botswana considers this option.

3.5. Appointment of the Electoral Commission and the Secretary of Elections

The appointment procedures of the IEC and its Secretary raise concerns of perception about the independence and impartiality of the IEC. In the Mission's view, the All-Party Conference mechanism should be strengthened in order to build consensus and promote trust in the Commission. In addition, the appointment of the Secretary must be the prerogative of the Commission. Finally, the appointment of the Commission should not be done too close to the election in order to avoid any possible disruption of the electoral process.

3.6. Counting at central locations and reconciliation of polling material

The current counting procedure is long and cumbersome. Under this system, the reconciliation of polling materials is duplicated as it is conducted both at the voting station and the counting station. The transfer of uncounted ballot papers is risky.

The Mission recommends that the counting process should take place in the polling station immediately after the close of voting.

4 Conclusion

Basing itself on the guidelines enshrined in the ECF/EISA PEMMO, the EISA Election Observer Mission concludes that the 2004 Botswana Parliamentary and Local Government electoral process was free and to a large extent fair with room for improvement to further enhance the fairness.

The Mission urges the Botswana electoral stakeholders to consider the recommendations as outlined in the statement.

Honourable Ntlhoi Motsamai, Mission Leader
Mr. Denis Kadima, Deputy Mission Leader