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Boko may be rejected as Presidential candidate

Publishing Date : 10 June, 2019


The rivalry between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Advocate Duma Boko and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Dr Sidney Pilane played out at the magistrate court this Friday at a hearing where the latter wants the former and his wife to be struck off the Voters’ roll for violating section 67 of the constitution.

Pilane is acting under the instructions of one John Keemenao Siele who is adamant that Boko is not a resident of Phase II in Gaborone as he purports rather his principal residence is Tlokweng. According to Pilane, Boko and his lawyers are well aware that what is alleged before the court is true.  Pilane is also representing another complainant who wants another UDC candidate, Haskins Nkaingwa struck off the roll in Gaborone North because he is not a resident there. Pilane is most likely to also contest as a Parliamentary candidate in Gaborone North.

Boko's lawyer, attorney Dick Bayford this week asked presiding magistrate, Mogi Paya for a postponement to a later date. Allegations against the leader of Opposition (LOO) if argued successfully in court may make him ineligible to contest for election at the Bonninton North constituency allegedly because it is not his principal residence. This could also mean that Boko will not run as a Presidential candidate against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leader, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Alliance for Progressives (AP) president Ndaba Gaolathe.

Parallel to the case against Boko, AP leader, Ndaba Gaolathe also has eight more cases challenging his eligibility to run as a candidate in Gaborone Bonnington South. Last week he won two cases and pledged not to seek costs from those who questioned his principal residence as per section 67 of the constitution.

Meanwhile, Boko’s lawyer, Bayford told the magistrate that they need more time to advice themselves on the matter, so as to safeguard Boko's rights under the prevailing circumstances. The UDC President’s lawyer had also questioned the process through which some of the evidence against Boko was gathered, at one point referring to a subpoena to the clerk of the National Assembly as “fraudulent”.

The complainant against Boko had solicited information about Boko from the National assembly and was denied because of the privileges of privacy extended to Members of Parliament but when the substantive clerk went on a trip, according to Bayford information was accessed through an Acting officer. Further information on Boko has been retrieved from the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and from Water Utilities Corporation (WUC). Bayford explained that they had to understand Boko’s case in the context of Botswana democracy, “because if he is struck off the roll he will not run for Parliament or Presidency as the leader of the main opposition party.”

Pilane did not object the postponement because "We want them to come prepared, fully prepared." However he dismissed Bayford’s arguments insisting that Boko was a voter just like all other Batswana. “All that is being raised is irrelevant, what matters is the law,” he said. Pilane is of the view that Boko is not special, he must be subjected to the same laws as all other citizens.

Pilane advised presiding Magistrate Mogi Paya not to be intimidated at the hearing. He said: "Please don't be intimidated by the attempt to make him (Boko) special because he is not. He is a voter just like you and me, it is only in that capacity that he is before you. He is not above the law. He is as subject to the law as you and me. The position he holds is irrelevant in this debate." Boko’s case has been postponed to a later date, and Pilane has indicated that all the evidence they gathered was to ensure that they assist the magistrate in determining the outcome of the trial.

Uyapo Ndadi, a renowned Gaborone attorney representing AP leader Ndaba Gaolathe in a similar matter has pointed out that stakes are high in these election. He said the objections have grave consequences, because the Magistrate’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.
 “For example, if the objector succeeds against Rre Boko by getting his name removed from the voters roll, then he will not be able eligible to run as an MP and as President, because for one to do so, they must be registered to vote.”

John Siele the objector in the Boko case, has lodged a case against Alliance for Progressives Gaborone Bonnington North parliamentary candidate, Dr Kaelo Molefhe before court. Siele is a registered as an independent candidate for Moselewapula ward council seat. In a similar fashion Siele argues that Molefhe is registered to vote in the upcoming elections using a physical address said not to be his principal residential place. The claim is alleged to be contrary to the Electoral Act.

Meanwhile Pilane and Boko will tussle again in court on August 29 in a matter where the BMD is praying with the court to reverse the UDC decision to expel it from the coalition. The panel of judges will preside over the matter. Bayford is representing the UDC again on the matter.



Do you think the courts will help put the UDC, BMD impasse within reasonable time ahead of the 2019 General Election?