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A call for electoral reforms

Maun residents have expressed displeasure at the country’s current electoral system, advocating instead for a new system underpinned by a direct election of the president.

Making contributions to the ongoing presidential commission of enquiry on constitutional review last week, Maun residents pointed out some loopholes in the law that allows for manipulation of the system and called for amendments of such.

Among the concerns which they raised was floor crossing of elected members of Parliament and Councillors without having to go through elections first.

Residents maintained that this kind of “voter cheating” needs to be corrected by calling a by-election in case an elected member resigns from the party under which he contested elections.

“Floor crossing is tantamount to vote rigging because when they cross to another party they change their tone and seize to speak on our behalf, they no longer represent us their electorates,” said Gaborakwe Ketlaaleka.

Some of the residents expressed dislike for special nominations, a window which they maintained was created to nominate additional members to legislative houses despite them having been rejected by the people in general elections.

They said nominations, especially at council level is a waste of government resources and need to be stopped.

However views varied on this point as some said nominations are okay as long as they are done to serve the initial purpose of which they were intended.

“Let disabled people like me be given a chance through nominations because we know best how living in disability means. Some prefer to say we live with disability, but the truth of the matter is that we are crippled (segole) and only us in this condition understand the challenges that comes with it,” noted a wheelchair bound Kingsley Paul.

Paul further called for introduction of vote of no confidence on poor performing legislators and that electorates be given the right to call for their replacement through the ballot when such leaders fail to perform and represent what they were voted for.

Like many others Paul further called for direct elections of state president and that secret ballot be used even at Parliament as the open vote where members of the house have to shout either “I” or “No” on controversial matters sometimes causes unnecessary drama in the house as it is intimidating.

Other residents called on the commission to recommend that state president directly appoint his cabinet from outside Parliament instead of appointing from the house as it is the case currently.

Another resident, Thomas Kohanga suggested that both the speaker and the deputy speaker of Parliament be nominated from outside Parliament.

His contention was that it was uncomfortable to see a deputy speaker chairing debates only for him to later change seats and go and debate the same topic from the floor.