The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Leadership have distanced themselves from the 2019 election petitions legal costs, citing lack of prior consultation.
Reports suggest that UDC President Duma Boko, who was also one of the petitioners, has been left in the lurch by fellow coalition partners.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers Bogopa, Manewe, Topedza & Co have served the UDC with a cumulative bill of costs in excess of P10 million pula in relation to the just concluded elections petitions.
Each of the 23 petitioners (including Boko) is expected to part with almost P300, 000 for costs incurred at the High Court. Those who filed with the Court of Appeal are expected to pay at least P100, 000 in legal costs.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard on Friday UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando distanced himself from the matter, referring our enquiries to the coalition spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa whose phone was off.
“I’m unable to respond on the matter. I am sure you know the people who were involved with the petitions,” Saleshando said.
According to close associates, the UDC’s 2019 elections financier and Boko’s ‘friend’, South African business moghul Zunaid Moti, has also distanced himself from the costs of the petitions.
The BDP legal bill is only half the problem. The IEC lawyers Minchin & Kelly are also expected to serve the UDC petitioners with their own letters of demand for costs.
“We have yet to discuss the matter with them (UDC petitioners). It’s a process,” Terrence Dambe told this publication on Friday.
The UDC had led a marathon of court cases following the opposition coalition’s failure to win the 2019 national elections. Some of the losing parliamentary candidates took a decision to initiate election petitions in respect of at least 15 constituencies, predominantly in the southern part of Botswana.
The petitions led by party president Boko, if successful, would give the coalition another go at wrestling power from the ruling BDP.
The UDC accused the BDP of rigging the 2019 national elections. BDP retained power, winning 38 of the total 57 constituencies, followed by UDC with 15, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) three, and Alliance for Progressives (AP) with a single seat. UDC accused the ruling party of engaging in ‘corrupt or illegal practices’ in order to win the elections. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal dismissed the petitions with costs.