Political uncertainty continues to grip Botswana as the southern African country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has revealed that its voter database has been infiltrated ahead of the 23 October polls.
On Wednesday, 16 October 2019, IEC spokesperson, Osupile Maroba, confirmed recent social media reports that a national service programme participant who had been engaged by the IEC in Molepolole village (about 30 kilometres from the capital Gaborone) is under police investigation for allegedly leaking confidential details from the voters’ roll.
“He shared the confidential data form which has voters’ names and their contact numbers,” Maroba said in a statement.
He added: “This form was developed prior to the general voter registration and was administered during the registration to assist us with following up voters for correction of their details in the roll. The document is not a public document and remains confidential.”
The suspect has been arrested together with an unnamed politician “for colluding in exchanging confidential information from the Commission without authority,” the official said.
Maroba said any collusion among stakeholders in sharing sensitive and confidential voters’ data is criminal and punishable.
“The voters have entrusted us to protect their personal data and will not allow such data to be shared publicly unless otherwise mandated by the law to do so,” he said.
The IEC had initially distanced itself from the issue when it began making the rounds on social media, insisting that it was not aware of such allegations.
The opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has however said it is worried that the Directorate of Information and Security (DIS) is targeting anti-government activists in an effort to intimidate them ahead of the forthcoming polls.
The politician in question, Arafat Khan, said the DIS colluded with IEC and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to create trumped up charges against him.
“All this detention was to distract and frustrate me. They have confiscated all my documents (and) I only have my phone with me. This is really painful. It is alleged that I stole a voter’s roll which I know I bought and paid for,” Khan said.
According to DIS Director General Peter Magosi, Khan who is an opposition activist and council ward candidate was found to have been in possession of confidential voters’ information.
Magosi said the IEC and DIS are “creatures of statutes” and were both established to serve the best interests of Batswana.
He said in carrying out its mandate the DIS would abide by the intelligence and security laws without fail.
“It should be appreciated that as part of its mandate, the directorate has the obligation to collect information of intelligence value in order to pre-empt, warn, advise or act on activities that may be adverse to Botswana’s national security and interests as set out in the Act,” said Magosi.
The BDP has distanced itself from the saga.