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Inside Venson-Moitoi court defeat against BDP

Three empanelled Judges of High Court  comprising Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane, Judge Abednigo Tafa, , and Judge Godfrey Radijeng on Thursday dismissed Pelonomii Venson-Moitoi court suit on the basis that she proved to her eligibility to run as President of Botswana in relation to her citizenship.  

Venson-Moitoi had taken the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to court citing irregularities in the build up to the first presidential election in party history. The lawyers representing BDP led by Busang Manewe contented that Venson-Moitoi failed to prove in the founding affidavit that she qualifies to run presidency of Botswana, as it is requirement by the constitution of BDP to meet such requirements.

On those grounds, the BDP wanted the matter dismissed because Venson-Moitoi had no locus standi thus the right or capacity to bring an action or to appear in a court. The trio Judges agreed with the BDP lawyers that Venson-Moitoi lacked locus standi, which according to the bench was enough to dismiss the matter outright.

Venson-Moitoi citizenship in question…

According to the ruling, Venson – Moitoi has no locus standi as she did not reveal whether she is eligible to be President of the ruling party and by extension that of the country.  They stated: “the BDP’s contention is that Venson – Moitoi has not alleged and established in her founding affidavit that she qualifies to be the president of the Republic of Botswana, which is a condition precedent to being President of the BDP in terms of article 29.3.3 of the constitution of the BDP.”

The BDP had submitted in court papers that for one to qualify as President of Botswana, one must in terms of the constitution of the Republic of Botswana establish that one is a citizen of Botswana by birth or descent, over the age of 30 years old and qualified to be elected member of the National Assembly.

This is provided for at section 33 (1) of the constitution of Botswana, which sets out that: “a person shall be qualified for election as president if, and shall not be qualified unless, he or she – a) is a citizen of Botswana by birth or descent; b) has attained the age of 30 years c) is qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly.”

They acknowledged that subsections b) and C) are not in dispute and the BDP does not contest this as Venson – Moitoi in essence averred to be over the age of 30 and has been elected as Member of Parliament. However the ruling continued: “the requirement of citizenship by birth or descent is the problematic element that has not been disclosed Moitoi in her founding papers. Put bluntly, Moitoi has failed to prove that she is a Botswana citizen by birth or descent and that she does qualifies to be President of the Republic of Botswana in terms of section 33 afore-noted. The latter as submitted by the BDP is a precondition to qualification of the BDP.”

The Judges added therefore that “after careful consideration on the issue, we are satisfied there is considerable merit to this contention and the point in limine is upheld. The effect is that on this point alone the application stands to be dismissed.” However the 3 Judges said they will nonetheless continue to assess other points out of abundance of caution in the court matter.

Judges stated that the case is not urgent…

In addition the Judges stated that the urgency was self-created if there is any urgency at all. “The BDP contended that communication was sent to all branches and regions of the BDP on the 20th February 2019, that the National congress would be held on the 5th April 2019. The BDP submitted that Moitoi signified he intention to contest as a presidential candidate of the BDP on the 17th December 2018 and began to campaign for that purpose. The latter point is acknowledged by Moitoi,” they said.

The Judges emphasised that the BDP submitted that Venson – Moitoi had ample time to seek an order that the elections rules as sought be promulgated. “They contend that she should have approached the court when she formed the intention to contest. The BDP submitted therefore that the urgency is self-created.”

Venson – Moitoi queried rules governing the elections

According to the Judges, Venson – Moitoi’s complainant is that the BDP does not have a detailed rules governing the conduct of the election of the President of BDP. “The second complaint is that the BDP through its Secretary General on the 2nd April 2019 replied to the submission of her name as an aspirant candidate for election to the office of the President of the BDP in a manner that she does not agree with on interpretation,” they pointed out.

They stated that the Secretary General in his letter of the 2nd April 2019 responded to state that certain persons submitted by Moitoi as her sponsors did not qualify as delegates in terms of articles 29.3 and 26.4.2 of the BDP’s constitution. Moitoi avers that she does not agree with that interpretation.

“Venson – Moitoi averred that the matter is urgent and seeks that the scheduled elective congress of the BDP be stayed, alternatively be postponed on as she would not be entitled to contest the BDP party presidency as a result of the disqualification of 26 of her sponsors by the BDP’s Secretary General, which decision was communicated to her on the 2nd April 2019 in the afternoon.” Her contention is that without the rules known to all candidates, the credibility of the poll will be compromised resulting in the elections not being free, fair and credible.

She averred in the court papers further that “the political atmosphere prevailing in anticipation of the elective congress is highly charged and has polarised not only on the party, but the public in general.” She averred further that the elective congress anticipated impacts on the country’s body politic and that for this reason its transparency and credibility is essential.”

Venson – Moitoi averred that she “stands irreparable to suffer irreparable harm in the event she participates in the elective congress despite her complaint regarding the promulgation of rules and regulations, in anticipation of lodging a review application in due course.”  
She averred that this was because after the anticipated or scheduled Kang elective congress her potential contender, the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, if successful would enjoy presidential immunity, thus rendering any court order aside the elections as irregular, merely academic.

After listening to other arguments the judges ruled that “in the premise the BDP succeeds on more than one point in lime and the application stands to be dismissed.” “We cannot overemphasise the importance of political parties resolving political disputes through internal conflict resolution processes. The point in limine succeeds,” they stated.The Judges borrowed a leaf from a Court of Appeal ruling between BDP and another versus Whyte Marobela who took the party to court in 2013 complaining about some transgressions in party primary elections.

“Further, we accept this position mindful of the Court of Appeal’s remarks that courts must be astute not to intrude in the political process by intervening too readily to overturn decisions taken by political bodies in internal elections where such bodies respect clear majority decisions, even in the face of clear irregularities in the process. Even though this is not about the elections, we take the view that the principle applies with equal force in this instance,” the judgement posits.

The ruling also points out that the interim sought by Venson – Moitoi is not competent in respect of prayer 2.5 of the draft order. “They contend that Venson – Moitoi has failed to disclose in her founding papers that she does not have an alternative remedy. The BDP further contends that Moitoi has an alternative remedy of article 13.6 of the BDP’s constitution. She further contended that article 13 of the BDP’s constitution was not available as a remedy in that it was tantamount to requiring Moitoi to exhaust local remedies.” As a result, the Judges ruled that “we take the view that Venson-Moitoi misses the point. The BDP has outlined an alternative remedy as set out in article 13.6 of the BDP’s constitution.”

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

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The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

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The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

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The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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