Lobatse High Court Judges David Newman, Maruping Dibotelo and Issac Lesetedi on Friday dismissed an election petition in which the Botswana Democratic Party’s parliamentary candidate for South East North constituency Elija Katse was contesting his loss to Botswana National Front’s Olebile Gaborone in the 2009 general elections.
The judges ruled that Katse’s petition does not have any grounds.
In his petition filed on 16 November, Katse argued that the verification process of the ballots cast was improper and irregular, and resulted in the declaration of results that were not correct. He said that the errors made could have affected the outcome of the parliamentary elections for the South East North constituency.
Katse also pleaded with the court to declare that the verification of ballot papers and the recount of all the parliamentary ballot papers in respect of the South East North constituency be ordered , carried out and overseen by the High Court, and that the outcome of the said recount be declared the official result of the parliamentary elections.
When dismissing the petition, the judges ruled that that they are unable to accept the contention advanced on behalf of the petitioner, Katse, that the provisions of section 117(d) and (e) of the act would be satisfied as long as it was established that security had been “in existence” within the seven days of presentation of the petition. The respondents had strongly argued that the security was paid out of time.
The judges also said that to give effect to the term “shall be given” in section 117 (d) and (e) is not sufficient for the recognizance of the petitioner and his surety to have been merely entered into, and that it should have been furnished to the Registrar of the Court who is charged with fixing the amount of the security and approving the form of the bond. They also said that in addition to being filed timorously with the Registrar, the recognizance should also have been given to the respondents in these proceedings. This, they said, would have been done in terms of section 117 (d) of the Act, as section 118 only requires for the respondents to be serviced with the names and addresses of the proposed sureties together with notice of presentation of the petition and a copy of the petition.
“The fact that that the petitioner’s attorneys effected delivery of security bonds suggests that they were alive to the specific requirements of section 117(d) and (e), and runs contrary to the argument presented by Katse’s attorney Makati- Mpho in court and that the petition fails” they said.
Commenting on the case’s outcome, Gaborone, said that the court’s decision is not surprising as it was obvious from the beginning that Katse had no case.
“After the election results were announced he immediately asked for a recount, which he was granted, and lost again. I am not sure what he was hoping to achieve, but it is clear that he is just a bad loser who does not want to accept results if they do not favor him” he said.
Gaborone was represented by Oteng Motlhala whilst Lawrance Dambe represented the Independent Electoral Commission.