A well-established private attorney who is also a senior partner at Bayford and Associates, Dick Bayford has sent a chilling alert to the High Court of Botswana cautioning them against making a judgement that may have the hallmarks of causing chaos in the impending 2019 General Elections.
Bayford said this when making presentations on the capacity as and from attorney perspective in a case in which they are representing the main opposition party in parliament – at court – Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). In the case the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) are challenging their expulsion from the umbrella party which is now left with Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in their endeavour to unseat the ruling Botswana Democratic party (BDP).
Bayford set the context by stating that as a matter of fact currently the UDC remains the leading opposition party in the country as it comprises various political formations. “So, if by some stroke of luck, the BMD is able to go to court and later get an interdict that says UDC must not contest elections; effectively the courts would be saying that the ruling BDP must be retained to power unopposed,” the well regarded attorney told a pack of journalists in a press briefing this week in Gaborone.
He said the court must then consider this very closely if it will augur well with the constitutional democracy that reigns in this country. The courts, he added must think hard whether it is desirable effectively to have one party running and contesting elections. “Whether it will be healthy for a democracy, whether it will conduce to peace and tranquillity in the country. Those are the considerations that any court, properly advised, would have to deal with,” Bayford said.
He further pointed out that it is very easy for the court to say that they are going to stop the UDC from contesting an election but then if people were to reflect carefully and to look at whether in fact it is practically to do that I would say it is not. In his view, “that would plunge this country into a very chaotic situation.” I don’t know, he continued, if the BMD is committed to democracy in this country that would be reminded about this cost.
The law guru emphasised that what the BMD is asking for in court has nothing to do with the coming elections. “They have been saying that the UDC is not going to be permitted to campaign or run these coming elections on as UDC. I think that is totally false.” According to Bayford, they are only saying the court must nullify the suspension of the BMD from the UDC, which is basically academic because that suspension was also followed by expulsion and so it’s a non-issue.
He said the second issue that they are raising is that, as a relief, they say that the court must state that their expulsion from the UDC is null and void. “So as regards to processes in relation to elections and preparation they mention nothing. It is only now that they are bringing the argument hiding behind self-created urgency that UDC is not allowed to contest. It is an empty statement,” the UDC lawyer brushed the issue aside.
He continued to stress therefore that “there is no case before court intending to bar the UDC from contesting the election in its own right.” The anti-establishment attorney further took a chilling attack to the BMD leadership by stating that “I must say with due respect to the leadership at the BMD that there is a total figmentation of their minds.”
Is UDC dragging its feet in the matter to reach impending elections?
So this case, Bayford narrated that the UDC first became aware of the case on the 14th December 2018 while the decision to expel the BMD having been taken way back on the 25th October 2018. UDC was only permitted to respond to the complaint at the beginning of the legal year commencing 1st February.
“Once the decision to expel the BMD, the party was fully informed of its right to lodge an appeal to the supreme decision body of the UDC which is congress. But rather the BMD decided not to utilise the option that is to exhaust the domestic revenue before they took the decision to rush to court,” he explained.
As you know recently, Bayford reminisced: I was involved in a case brought by Pelonomi Venson Moitoi and some of the authorities that were cited by the High Court in the judgement was that matters relating to political parties are best left to the political parties to determine. “Now we expect that if the High Court is going to be consistent in its findings it should in all likelihood assume in its position that it’s important that members of a political party feeling aggrieved by an decision taken by their party should embark on the internal processes of their party before they opt for court,” he argued.
“When we were in court a statement was made by the BMD to the effect that UDC is delaying the case. We take issue with that statement because it is totally deficient of any truth. BMD decided to sit on their laurels from the 25th October to the 14 December and effectively to the 1st February 2019.”
Bayford also observed that when the BMD went to court they did not ask the court to determine on their case on grounds of urgency. “I keep referring to the Venson-Moitoi case; people keep saying that the case was ran through the day and decision taken at night. This was because of the manner in which Venson Motoi lodged the case as it was on urgency basis,” he justified.
The legal nature of the BMD/UDC court case
According to Bayford, the case takes the form of a review application which means it differs from the appeal in that when someone goes to court to seek a review of a decision it must be shown that the matter falls within the arena of public and not private law. He added “secondly a review will concern itself with legality either in substance or procedural and it does not deal with the rational or facts of the case. In an appeal when someone appeals because is aggrieved, they would be allowed to carry out a narration of the facts and ask court to make a determination or findings that were made by the lower court.”
If this case was to succeed, the renowned attorney said the court is not going to say that the facts were wrong but that the decision that was made by the UDC was wrong. What the court might say, he continued, is that the procedure that was adopted by the UDC in arriving at that decision was wrong, and that is the distinction.
“No way that the High Court is going to subpoena the powers of UDC it being a voluntary organisation governed by its rules and regulations to take a decision,” he concluded. Bayford sat with other UDC lawyers while making the presentations in the matter being Boingotlo Toteng, a senior Partner at Toteng attorneys and Dutch Leburu who is a partner at Monthe Marumo attorneys.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.