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.”
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.