Expelled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has registered to contest the 2019 general elections as a separate entity from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), court records show.
This is contained in a letter dated 15th May 2019 written by the party’s secretary general Gilbert Mangole and addressed to the secretary of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Mangole states in his letter that “In 2012, the BMD applied to de-register the BMD voting symbol as the party would be using the UDC voting symbol in the 2014 general elections.”
Mangole added that “following the resolution of the National Executive Committee of the BMD, I write to request your Office to re-register the BMD voting symbol for possible use in the upcoming 2019 general elections. The symbol remains the same as contained in your records.”
On 18 June 2019, IEC Principal Election Officer, Dintle Rapoo, appending his signature on behalf of the IEC Secretary, responded thus “Your request to re-register the Botswana Movement for Democracy voting symbol is granted.”
He added: “We apologise for the delayed response which was caused by the necessary consultations which had to be done.”
The BMD recently dragged the IEC, Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane and UDC before the court seeking a number of reliefs among them that it presents its members amongst the persons to be nominated as parliamentary candidates to be presented by the UDC in the forthcoming elections.
In his founding affidavit, Mangole also stated that the party also sought to participate in the selection of the presidential candidate to be presented by the UDC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
The decision by the BMD to register as an independent entity was also captured in an affidavit by IEC chairman Justice Abednego Tafa.
“Before I address the specific allegations made in the founding affidavit of Gilbert Shimane Mangole Mon in the current Application, there are certain matters of a general nature that I wish to bring to the attention of the Honourable Court,” said Tafa. He added that “I’m advised and verily believe that on account of these factors, certain facts pertaining to this present application will be placed in perspective.”
According to Tafa, “the BDM registered itself with the IEC in terms of the Section 150 (2) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 02:09). This is confirmed by BMD’s letter of the 15th May 2019…”
Tafa further stated that “I’m advised further that BMD has duly complied with the Electoral Act (the Act) and therefore registered as a separate entity from the UDC.”
He said he decided to present the information to give the Court for purposes of giving it “a proper perspective and in a position to fully appreciate the correct situation with respect to the status of the BMD…”
The BMD has since filed another application with the High Court in the normal course seeking a review and setting aside of the decision to expel it from the UDC. In its application, the BMD pointed out that, “In numerous public statements subsequently issued by the BMD, one written and many at rallies, in radio and newspaper interviews the BMD rejected the purported suspension and purported expulsion.”
Meanwhile President of UDC Duma Boko noted in his replying affidavit that the BMD asked the court to prohibit the Chief justice of Botswana from receiving and accepting any nomination of a presidential candidate from the UDC for the 2019 general elections and prohibit the IEC from receiving and accepting any nomination of Parliamentary and council candidates from the UDC in 2019 general elections.
“This is a final relief disguised as an interlocutory application. The Applicant (BMD) asks that these orders remain in force pending the final determination of the main review application (which is due to be heard on 27 and 28 August 2019) and any appeal to the Court of Appeal,” he said. He added that if granted, the orders will likely remain in force until after the 2019 elections, preventing the UDC from fielding any candidates in the elections.
Boko added that “The applicant (BMD) seeks these reliefs in circumstances where it has already applied to the IEC and granted re-registration of its voting symbol by the latter, launched its election campaign in earnest, under the BMD banner, and has begun announcing its candidates for the elections.”