Saturday, July 4, 2020

Botswana faces a long spell of election anxiety

Anxiety and uncertainty over Botswana’s general elections is expected to stretch beyond the anticipated 90 days with additional petitions expected over possible violation of election finance laws by sitting Members of Parliament.

Until the petitions filed with the High Court are concluded the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) cannot produce a final report on the outcome of the elections.

It has emerged that Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) President Biggie Butale can still launch another petition after election returns have been presented to thereturning officer.

Section 87 of the Elections Act as read with Section 117(b) i. Section 87 sets a time limit of 90 days after election results are announced for every candidate to submit a return of expenses to the returning officer. Section 117 then gives an aggrieved person who relies on illegal practice, 21 days after the day on which the return was furnished to the returning officer to file a petition.

So far Botswana’s sitting MPs have historically been allowed to get away with not filing financial returns in accordance with the Electoral Act.

The Sunday Standard has established that so far, none of the sitting MPs have filed their returns as demanded by the Act.

Scores of aggrieved MPs are expected to latch on this violation and launch a new round of petitions.

In an earlier interview with the Botswana Gazette, the IEC confirmed that no MP filed returns after the 2009 and 2014 general elections acknowledging that this was a violation of the Electoral Act.

The petitions are expected to plunge Botswana into a Constitutional crisis: section 75 of the Botswana Constitution makes it an offence for a person to sit or vote in the National Assembly without authorisation. So far, indications are that none of the MPS in the current Parliament have fully complied with the Electoral Act.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.