LEADER of Opposition Hon Matthew Wale says the electoral reforms in this country have failed to address the corruption by cross-border voters.
He said the cross border issue is a very serious threat to the integrity of our electoral process and the quality of the representation it seeks to procure.
Speaking in Parliament on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2023, Hon Wale said neither the Electoral Act 2018 nor the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2023 seeks to address this matter.
The Opposition Leader said it is a serious vulnerability in our electoral system and one that undermines the credibility of the electoral roll, and ultimately does distort representation.
“Some elections are won purely on the basis of cross border voters. We have had enough experience with this that one would think it is a priority to fix. Again, I am very disappointed there is no fix for it,” he said.
Hon Wale said the recent registrations update has demonstrated the administrative attempts to address this problem.
However, he stressed that it has raised the expense of registration for voters – and this is not an acceptable outcome.
The Opposition Leader said a legitimate voter must not be impeded from registration because it is too expensive.
“ This situation lends our electoral system vulnerable to those who have access to money who can fund voters to go register. As we know, such candidates are beholden to those that fund them. These are precisely the type of candidates we do not want to see in Parliament. This is not good for our governance. It is a major reason for many problems in government,” Hon Wale said.
He said it is time that this matter is addressed once and for all.
“Government needs to put its foot down and make registration to vote based solely on physical residence, and remove the current loophole of genealogical/cultural connection that seems to have been exploited by cross border voters. This is arguably the most serious issue threatening the integrity of election outcomes,” he said.
Hon Wale said the only way to fix it is to state in law that ordinarily resident in a ward or constituency means physical residence for a period of time, and no other criteria.
“This ought to be no impediment to candidacy,” he told Parliament.