Twelve members of the University of Botswana Political Science Society (UBPSS) on May 7, 2021 received certificates of appreciation from the Independent Electoral Independent Commission (IEC) for playing a major role in the 2019 national elections observer mission.
A first for the University of Botswana as well as the country, never before have students taken part in election observer missions since the country’s first elections in 1965.
“This is a momentous occasion in the history of elections in Botswana because it is for the first time that certificates have been awarded to a student observer mission. In fact it is also for the first time that we have had a student observer mission,” observed IEC Acting Secretary, Ms Doreen Serumula.
Ms Serumula said the University of Botswana was the first institution of learning to assign students to observe national elections. She explained that the UB group was the fourth largest observer mission from Botswana.
“Vice Chancellor we are pleased to inform you that this observer group submitted a report with recommendations which sought to improve the conduct of our elections beyond 2019. The comments and recommendations therein have been noted and will be attended to accordingly,” added Ms Serumula.
She encouraged UBPSS to continue taking part in election observer missions, noting that such missions promoted public confidence in the elections besides exposing electoral fraud and malpractices that may be embedded in the processes. In addition, she said youth participation in the electoral process was critical to fostering their development in the political matters of their country and also presented them with opportunities to take part as candidates.
On a similar note, Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, could not hide his excitement that the University of Botswana was the first institution of higher learning to achieve such a rare feat.
“I want to believe that maybe this could be the first in Africa or maybe the first in the world,” reckoned Professor Norris who said such a historic feat was an indication of greater things to come.
The Vice Chancellor thanked the IEC for offering the students such a rare opportunity at a tender age because it went a long way in developing their skills in addition to translating the knowledge their acquired in class into practical experience. Professor Norris applauded the UBPSS Patron, Mr Leonard Sesa for the initiative because it was important to youth development and engagement in national issues.
Meanwhile, the Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor David Sebudubudu, urged the students to remain focused and to invest immensely in their self-development for future success. He added that the exposure they gained on Election Day was something they should treasure forever.