By Dintle S Rapoo
Following the publication of the Delimitation Report by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana, the Independent Electoral Commission is now on with the establishment of polling districts (wards)/ demarcation exercise throughout the country.
The purpose of the exercise is to divide the newly delimited constituencies into wards for purposes of Local Government elections. The exercise also identifies polling stations at which registration and polling will take place, within each polling district demarcated. Further, the exercise names the polling districts and stations.
Section 5 of the Electoral Act (cap 02:09) mandates the Secretary to the IEC to carry out the exercise but in the spirit of consultation, transparency and involvement of the citizens in the process, the Secretary appointed a Demarcation Committee for each constituency to which he delegated the task. These are chaired by the Heads of IEC offices in the districts and the rest of the membership was drawn from the four Local Authorities in an administrative district as well as various electoral stakeholders.
A population quota for an administrative area would be the main determining factor of the size of the polling district but consideration of some other factors, such as natural community of interest, means of communication, existing administrative boundaries, physical features, population density etc, could influence the magnitude of the polling district.
The Demarcation Committees operate by collecting written or oral evidence from the citizens in each constituency and make resolutions therefrom. At the close of the exercise, each Committee will submit a report to the Secretary to the IEC who would in turn publish it in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
These newly delimited and demarcated areas as well as the newly identified polling stations will come into effect during the 2014 general elections but any elections that may become necessary before dissolution of Parliament in 2014 will be on the basis of the old areas as created in 2002 and 2003. Consequently, the voter registration scheduled for October 2013, for the next general elections, will be based on these new areas.