Less than half of Botswanas external voters actually cast ballets

The number of votes cast externally has sent an early warning of voter apathy as the rest of the nation gears up for the October 16 general elections.

Only 558 out of 1 641 Batswana, who registered, cast their votes in external polling stations on October 3.

Speaking at the handing over of the ballots, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe acknowledged voter apathy in some of the missions.

However, he was quick to note the problem was widespread.

Justice Gaongalelwe said voting took place in 26 polling stations around the world where Botswana has diplomatic missions, adding that the only mission whose ballots were not received and counted was the New York mission.

South Africa, which has the largest number of Batswana, recorded only 177 votes in the seven polling stations established throughout the neighbouring country.

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth recorded the highest number of votes at 95 followed by the Johannesburg consulate at 53.

Sixteen people voted at the North West University in Mafikeng, 19 at the High Commission in Pretoria, 15 in Bloemfontein, 17 at the Durban Institute of Technology, 42 at the Cape Town consulate and 31 at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

The other polling station, which was expected to have a huge turnout of voters was Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

The Asian country is home to many Batswana students and was issued with 328 ballot papers but registered only 63 votes.

In Namibia, at the Windhoek polling station, 100 ballot papers were issued, but only 31 people voted. The Abuja polling station in Nigeria recorded three votes from the seven ballot papers issued.

Meanwhile, Justice Gaongalelwe commended heads of diplomatic missions for their excellent work during elections.

External voters cast votes for parliamentary candidates only.

The deputy executive secretary of the IEC, Ms Martha Sayed explained that the ballots from abroad would be distributed to their respective constituencies.

She also highlighted that the ballots would be issued to returning officers two days before election day and would only be opened during counting and mixed with the rest of the ballots.



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