Certain officials of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), whose full particulars appear herein, engaged in corrupt or illegal practices to influence and distort the outcome of the election; the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) unlawfully aided and abetted the BDP officials in executing the corrupt or illegal practices aforesaid;
Certain officials of the Independent Electoral Commission (first respondent) unlawfully aided and abetted the BDP officials in executing the corrupt or illegal practices aforesaid; The roll that was used on the polling day was not the same as the one certified by the Secretary of the first respondent;
The first respondent contravened or permitted the contravention of the provisions of section 28 of the Act. In proof of the complaints alleged to above, your petitioner shall at the hearing of this petition lead evidence from a whistleblower, Moemedi Dennis Baikalafi (Mr. Baikalafi), whose particulars are as follows: an adult self-employed man of full legal capacity resident in Gaborone; the Managing Director of Even Life Holdings (Pty) Ltd; he is also member of the Botswana Democratic Party ('BDP') Communications Support Sub-Committee.
During the run-up to the 2019 elections Mr. Baikalafi was part of the national campaign team of the BOP. This team comprised amongst others the following office bearers of the BOP, to wit; Secretary General, Mr. Mpho Balopi (Mr. Balopi), Head of Strategy, Dr. Comma Serema (Dr. Serema), and Head of Communications and International Relations Mr. Kagelelo Banks Kentse (Mr. Kentse).
In or about June 2018, a meeting attended by the BOP President Dr.Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi (Dr. Masisi), Mr. Balopi. Dr Serema, the Treasurer of the BOP Mr. Satar Dada (Mr. Dada) and Mr. Baikalafi was convened at Tsholetsa House. Also present at the meeting was the Director General of Intelligence and Security Services, Brigadier Peter Fana Magosi (Rt.) (Brigadier Magosi). In this meeting, Dr. Masisi expressed his concern of losing the forthcoming elections and those present were called upon to suggest strategies of ensuring that the President wins the elections. It was clear to all present that the message conveyed by Dr. Masisi was 'win by any means'.
It was agreed at the said meeting that the date of the elections be set for 23rd October 2019. Brigadier Magosi was to cause registration of 'front companies' to be used for money laundering purposes. An unspecified amount of money was to be transferred from a DISS 'slush fund' to the front companies. The front or dummy companies · were to pay a company referred to as Native Groups (or a company of a name closely related) under the guise of advertising for the presidency. Native Groups is owned by Mr. Balopi, the Secretary General of the BDP.
Dr Masisi, Mr. Balopi, Brigadier Magosi and Mr. Dada devised a plan to pay Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voters' registration officials to issue more than one voter's registration card per individual to be selected, who would subsequently cast votes for the BDP.
The meeting resolved that Mr. Balopi in his capacity as the Secretary General would be the over-arching coordinator of implementation of the plan that had been hatched.
The general voters' registration took place during the period of 3rct September 2018 to 11th November 2018 and it was during this period that implementation of the plan of issuance of double voters' registration cards was to be implemented. Mr. Balopi issued instructions to various coordinators spread over the length and breadth of the country to approach voter registration officers of the IEC and to bribe them so that they could effect the duplicated registration. Mr. Baikalafi was one of the coordinators given this task.
Mr. Balopi gave Mr. Baikalafi an amount of P 16 500.00 (Sixteen Thousand Five Hundred Pula); P 15. 000.00 in cash and P 1 500.00 through Stanbic Mobile money transaction. In addition, he gave him a list of coordinators the latter was to manage. In particular, these were coordinators based in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve ('CKGR') being a certain Onkgolotse (mobile phone number 73925305 I 74480227).
The latter was designated the team leader for the said area and he was to arrange double registration of potential voters in Phakalane, Gaborone and Gaborone Central. The other coordinator (or team leader) was one Mmaagwe Dan (mobile phone 71615580), who was assigned the Maun area. She was assisted by her son Dan· (mobile phone 74128830) and Kefilwe Makata (mobile phone 73735524 I 72369336). Mr. Baikalafi distributed the funds given to him by Mr. Balopi between the two teams aforesaid.
The coordinators (or team leaders) assigned to different areas were required to compile a list of potential voters who were to be used in the double registration exercise referred to above. Mr. Baikalafi was charged with coordination of the CKGR and Maun, inclusive of greater Maun. With the assistance of one Fish, Tiro Mekgwe, Thato Osupile, Selwana Kesebonye, Lotty Manyapedza, Kabo Masoba and Mbakiso Tjiyapo, all BDP activists, a list of the potential double voters was compiled. This list was very copious, running into approximately 16 000 (sixteen thousand) names.
Mr. Baikalafi is aware that other teams which were part of the exercise of coordinating duplication of voters' registration and trafficking also compiled similar lists. Mr. Baikalafi states and has verily informed your petitioner, and the latter believe same to be true for reasons of his stated personal involvement both in the planning and execution of this vote fraud, that the potential voters mobilized for this fraud did not even turn up personally, or attend in person, at the various voter registration points. What was done by Mr. Baikalafi and others in his team was to: obtain the names and National Identity numbers of said potential voters and then submit them to certain identified IEC Voter Registration Officers;
have the IEC Voter Registration Officers capture the names and identity numbers of said potential voters into their voter registration booklets, after hours and at their residences; have the said IEC Voter Registration Officers issue at least two voter registration cards per such voter; collect the issued voter registration cards for safe keeping, awaiting their handing over to the voters on election day to facilitate their voting;
It was agreed that the pool for sourcing potential voters to be used in carrying out the electoral fraud was to include institutions such as military garrisons, tertiary institutions, organized community based organizations like soccer teams and cultural groups, as well as churches from. Which names and details of members could be easy to obtain.
Such names were to be, and indeed were, submitted to the identified IEC voter registration officers and duly registered as having attended personally to register when in truth they had not. Many of the names were so registered without the consent and involvement of the individuals whose names and particulars were used, the idea being to then, consequent upon their successful registration as stated, then have the National Identity Office issue National Identity cards in respect of such individuals and have the DISS collect these and hand them to identified and trusted individuals who would then present themselves at the various polling stations and impersonate the real persons of such names and particulars and accordingly vote.
Most if not all such "voters" were deployed in Gaborone Bonnington North and the rest of the Gaborone and surrounding constituencies. I have myself come across a number of individuals who state that they never attended at any polling station to register for the 2019 elections and did not expect their names to be the voters roll for these elections. They were shocked to discover after the elections that their names do actually appearin the voters roll and fear that someone else may have impersonated them and voted purporting to be them.
One such person states that he resides at Block 9 in the Gaborone Bonnington South Constituency but his name appears as registered in Block 3 in the Gaborone Bonnington North Constituency. He will be called to testify at the hearing of this matter. In Mr. Baikalafi's estimation, the total number of people who were registered as stated above and thus voted more than once in the Gaborone Bonnington North Constituency is over two thousand, which would account for at least four thousand votes ascribed to the second respondent and resulting in her being declared the winner.
Other such "mobilized" voters were registered in the same way in the other Constituencies in Gaborone and the surrounding constituencies of Tlokweng and Mogoditshane, including Lentsweletau-Mmopane and were facilitated to vote in said constituencies and then cast a second vote in Gaborone Bonnington North.
To Mr. Baikalafi's knowledge the bulk of all documentation used to prosecute the said fraud was kept in the custody of Mr. Balopi, who stored same at plot No. 55741, Tsaru Tsaru Close, Phakalane, his residence and Plot 208 Mogoditshane, being one of his properties. Mr. Baikalafi estimates that the total number of people who were used to perpetrate the double registration fraud could well run into tens of thousands.
According to the scheme of double registration, Mr. Balopi paid or facilitated the payment of willing IEC voter registration officers in the amounts between P2 000.00 and P5 000.00. The actual amount paid depended on how well the registration official negotiated. Every registration official had their own voter registration books and were allowed to take the books to their respective homes, so that they could 'work from home'.
Team leaders in various constituencies were appointed to ensure individuals were registered to vote in two or more different constituencies and to be moved to another constituency that needed more votes so that the BDP could win. This became what was called 'the mobilization. When the registration officials managing voter registration filled in Form A correctly he/she would intentionally fill in a second form using the same information as the first but omit either a letter in the same name or a number in the identity number. This caused a second 'individual' to be registered on the voters roll and two pink voter registration cards were issued to the same individual but on the system it was recorded as two separate individuals.
From my own understanding of electronic data maintenance, storage and retrieval systems, any activity undertaken on the system, such as the one kept and maintained by the first respondent, would leave an inerasable trace which would show: who accessed the system?, especially where access is by password or some such form of personal identification; What information was uploaded, deleted or altered during such access; and exactly when such access was gained.
Thus it would be easy and expedient for a proper disposal of this matter to have an audit of the data base or electronic system of the first respondent to settle this aspect. Transport, food, accommodation and incentives were then arranged by Mr. Balopi for voting day for the mobilized/ trafficked individuals.
Registration process commenced on or about September 2018 and continued for three months. There were three registration phases; general registration which took place at the registration polling stations, continuous registration which took place at the registration polling station and supplementary registration which took place at the registration polling stations.
As averred above, team leaders in various constituencies, specifically recruited to defraud the electoral process were appointed to ensure that individuals were registered to vote in two or more different constituencies in an urban area or to be moved to another constituency that needed more votes in a rural area.
In order to facilitate the said process the Election Day was ·set for Wednesday, with the Tuesday afternoon and Thursday being declared public holidays. This was the first time in Botswana's electoral history that three public holidays were declared for a general election. This was done so that buses normally used on working days could be used for 'voter trafficking' on the days before and after the elections.
Sometime in October 2019, but before the Election Day, Dr. Masisi, Mr. Balopi, Brigadier Magosi and others went on a 'tour' around the country and informed the team leaders as to how to mobilize their 'voters'. The buses arrived shortly after the team leaders were informed as they traveled to each area. The team leaders were paid a P 2 000.00 (Two Thousand Pula) stipend for September 2019 and October 2019 by Mr. Balopi and given airtime scratch cards to keep in contact. Some of the national coordinators were given cell phones. This stipend was provided for two months.
The team leaders held all the duplicate voters' cards in their possession as well as their legitimately issued voters' registration cards. They would then get the voters on the buses and travel with them to the relevant constituencies to vote. On the 22"d October 2019 the voters were transported and accommodated at facilities close to the voting stations they were to cast their votes at.
At the voting stations there were line marshals who were holding the queue stating that they were awaiting 50 or more individuals in front of them so that when the voters arrived they could get off the bus, vote quickly and leave again. Voting began at 0630 hours, but the queue started forming much earlier, so that the 'line marshals' would be in place from 0300 to ensure the trafficked voters would vote and go. Houses were 'donated' for accommodation and tents and mattresses were purchased and set up. About 70 tents were set up in Mogoditshane and tents were also set up in Gaborone, Phakalane and Block 6.
Food was purchased from 'Choppies', a local chain store and alcohol was given to the mobilized voters. Mr. Balopi had issued an instruction that no receipt was to be kept for the alcohol purchases and that payment was to be strictly by way of cash. Once the voters were done at the voting stations, they were transported to locations where lunch had been prepared for them by caterers. Both voters' registration cards were then taken from them and their names were ticked off the list, so that a record was kept of who voted. The mobilized voters were only paid their 'incentives' after they voted and had handed in their duplicate voter's registration card.
Mr. Baikalafi was directly and personally involved in the implementation of the said fraudulent scheme in respect of all Gaborone Constituencies which include Gaborone Bonnington North, and Kanye South, Mogoditshane and Tlokweng constituencies. In all these constituencies, the mode of election cheating was as tabulated above. According to Mr. Baikalafi, he was in regular communication with other coordinators involved in the said operation and that they individually told him that they successfully implemented the plan as agreed.
Save where the context otherwise reflects, all the averments made at paragraphs to 13 to 49 above, inclusively stem from what Mr. Baikalafi has verily informed your petitioner, and the latter believes same to be true for reasons of his stated personal involvement both in the planning and execution of this vote fraud.
Your petitioner had assigned two (2) polling agents at each of the polling stations in the constituency. The averments that follow herein, of what transpired at the said polling stations derives from what the polling agents verily informed your petitioner, and the latter believe same to be true for reasons of the former's personal involvement thereat.
At the polling stations and in order to facilitate the fraudulent scheme aforesaid, the presiding officers took copies of the elections rolls which the polling agents had brought with them and gave them substitute rolls, which had been manipulated to enable the fraud.
Several names of potential voters who were included in the elections voters' roll certified by the first respondent were not in the substitute roll availed at the polling stations.
In the event a voter's name was excluded from the substitute roll, the presiding officers would ask him/her to leave his/her telephone number under the pretext that they would call them later. The polling officers would later call the affected voters, some would come and they were allowed to vote despite the fact that their names were not in the roll. Some prospective voters were reflected as deceased on the substitute voters' roll when they were still alive.
Some of the substitute rolls were incomplete. At Khuduga Polling Station, for instance, the roll that had been availed commenced from names starting with alphabet "M" to those starting with alphabet "Z". Later, the presiding officer brought a complete roll. However, by then a considerable number of people had already voted.
One of your petitioner's polling agents at Khuduga Polling Station, Gaolatlheope Lydia Ngaka protested the conduct of the Election Officers at the Polling Station, and her remonstrations were captured in an audio recording which will also form part of the evidence herein. Her protestations were against: the prohibition by the Election Officers of crossing out on the voters rolls supplied, of voters as they voted; the conduct by Election Officers, of allowing persons to vote whose names and details did not appear in the voters roll;
the refusal by the Election Officers to stop the voting in order to address the issue of voters rolls that were not the same and did not contain the same information as evidenced by the claim by the Election Officers in rejecting her protestations, that the names of said persons appeared in a voters roll that the Election Officers claimed to have which had not been availed to the polling agents despite the fact that the Election Officers had prevented the polling agents from bringing into the polling station a copy of the Certified Voters Roll and insisted on the polling agents using the voters roll given to them by said Election Officials.
The forcible insistence by the Presiding Officer that your petitioner's polling agent should not cross out voters who had voted made cross checking and detection of double voting difficult, if not impossible. In view of the fact that the only Voters Rolls used at the polling stations were those furnished to the polling agents at the polling station on Election Day, said voters rolls form a critical piece of evidence in this matter and should, therefore be availed to your petitioner. He has consequently requested said voters rolls from the first respondent by letter dated 6 November 2019 which was duly served on the first respondent. A copy of the letter is annexed hereto as "DGB 5".
The first respondent undertook to revert to your petitioner's attorneys in respect of the said voters’ rolls per its letter of 7 November 2019 annexed hereto as "DGB 6", subsequent to which the first respondent sought an indulgence to 14 November 2019 per its email communication of 11 November 2019 annexed hereto as "DGB 7". The first respondent then finally gave a response by letter dated 13 November 2019 a copy of which is annexed hereto as "DGB 8". The voters' rolls which were the subject of your petitioner's request communicated through his attorneys are of critical importance to this petition and he persists in his demand to be furnished therewith.
There were four (4) parliamentary candidates representing BDP, UDC, and Real Alternative Party (RAP). This notwithstanding, the ballot paper included a symbol of a fifth candidate, depicted thereon as a gem diamond. This caused confusion amongst the voters. Your petitioner contends that the first respondent has failed to deliver in the constituency he contested for, a poll that was efficient, proper, free and fair, thus abdicating its Constitutional mandate. Owing to the nature and magnitude of the fraud perpetrated and irregularities committed as averred above, it would be difficult and even impossible for the Court to ascertain the rightful winner for the Bennington North constituency.
Wherefore your petitioner prays for an Order in the following terms: directing that the second respondent was not duly elected and that no other person was or is entitled to be declared duly elected; directing that the declaration made by the Returning Officer for the said elections to the effect that the second respondent was duly elected is null and void. Declaring that the Bennington North constituency seat is vacant; certifying to the President the vacancy of the constituency seat and the cause thereof; directing that the first respondent pays the costs of this petition;
Owing to the nature and magnitude of the fraud perpetrated and irregularities committed as averred above, it would be difficult and even impossible for the Court to ascertain the rightful winner for the Bonnington North constituency. Directing that the declaration made by the Returning Officer for the said elections to the effect that the second respondent was duly elected is null and void.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).