Court of Appeal (CoA) has this week put to bed opposition parties’ 2019 general elections rigging claims by dismissing the last case on the matter as appealed by former Councillor for Mosolotshane/Morolane in the Shoshong constituency, Mogalakwe Mogalakwe.
When delivering the judgement this week in Gaborone, the presiding Judge, Justice Lakhvinder Singh Walia, upheld the verdict of the High Court. “The application is dismissed with costs, including costs of Counsel,” he stated.
The Judge further added that: “In the end results, Mogalakwe has failed, in my view, to provide any exceptional circumstances accounting for the delay, nor very strong prospects of success.” The CoA justified the previous High Court ruling: “The decision of court a quo to dismiss the petition was based on findings of fact and credibility. It is trite that an appellate court will not disturb findings of fact or credibility by a trial court unless such findings are manifestly wrong or result from a misdirection.”
According to Walia, there is no mention whatsoever of violation of any constitutional provision. “I must say at once, that the raising of section 65A of the constitution in the notice of appeal is a disingenuous afterthought,” he lashed out. This comes after another opposition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) had also appealed the High court verdict that dismissed their contestation of the outcome of the said recent national elections.
Both parties had cited massive irregularities in some constituencies in some parts of the country which contend tilted the election results in favour of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Following the matter, the appeal was later launched which was premised on the ground that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was in breach of its constitutional mandate to conduct a free and fair election.
Mogalakwe had lost elections in the Council ward representing the Alliance for Progressives (AP) in which the BDP through Kesebelwang Gaarongwe won the elections with 674 votes slightly ahead of Mogalakwe with 637 while Lucas Mokalake of the UDC trailed behind with only 72 votes.
Having lost with a slim margin, Mogalakwe then forged ahead to launch a protest to the results at High Court, the mater which was then dismissed by three panel of Judges; Omphemetse Motumise, Itumeleng Segopolo and Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe.
Before the court a quo, Mogalakwe had sought court to declare the election held on the 23rd of October 2019 for Mosolotshane/Moralane ward in the Shoshong local government as irregular, null and void and not in compliance with the Electoral Act of Botswana, Cap 02:09. He also wanted court to set aside the election, and direct a re-run of the election within 60 days from the date of the order.
Mogalakwe complained about canvassing for votes at the polling station in which he said he got information from a source he did not disclose, and that a certain Kaudimba made a report to the presiding officer.
The second complaint, the Judge narrated, was about thunderstorms on the day of the voting, which prevented some voters from casting their vote and the election officers not having made adequate arrangements for their protection from the elements.
“The third complaint related to absence of adequate lightning during the voting process, a cadac lamp having failed and cell phones having to be used to provide lighting,” Walia pointed out. He further said that the fourth complaint was about lack of assistance to illiterate and disabled voters, and this related to inadequate training of electoral officers to assist non-Setswana speakers and deaf/mute voters.
He then observed that, “the next complaint was about the denial by the court of Mogalakwe’s request to call two additional witnesses who had not been listed in the list of witnesses provided to the court.” The Court of Appeal further explained that the other complaints were about the failure to enforce the law against canvassing within 200 metres from the polling station and the breach of section 121 (1) of the Electoral Act.
The case marks the end of the road for opposition in Botswana with regard to their vote rigging claims over the highly contested 2019 General Elections. In the matter, Advocate Patrick Kgoadi represented Mogalakwe while Advocate Otsile Rammidi and Lesego Babitseng stood in for Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Busang Manewe and Itseng Mothibamele for Kesebelwang Gaarongwe and Lucas Ehutsahetse Mokalake respectively.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.