Thursday, April 22, 2021

Court bars BDP from contesting Ftown by election

Scores of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) supporters are likely to vote for the opposition or altogether miss the Francistown West by-election.

This follows a ruling in favour of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and BDP politician Whyte Marobela by the Gaborone High Court.

In its ruling, the Court has stated that had the IEC accepted Moswaane’s nomination bid it would have been adding and abetting in an act of contempt of court.

Delivering the judgement on Monday, Justice Terrence Rannoane ruled that the IEC’s returning officer who refused to accept Moswaane’s nomination papers was justified.

The reading of the judgement was brief and only focused on the conclusion.

Rannowaane said that although the IEC was not named in the court order it was nevertheless aware of the order.

In their argument, the BDP and Moswaane had argued that under the Electoral Act IEC officers were obliged to accept without question a nomination once presented to them.

It was also argued on behalf of the BDP and Moswaane that since IEC was not a party to the case against Marobela and the BDP on the primary in Francistown West, Justice Tshepo Motswagole’s temporary ruling did not necessarily imply that the IEC would be hamstrung on the matter.

Further, BDP lawyers had argued that by the time of nomination there had been compliance with Motswagole’s order. The Court had order the party central committee to give Marobela a hearing.

The ruling party wanted Moswaane to be declared nominated because he had presented the nomination papers and paid the required amount.

However delivering judgment on Monday, Rannowane was not convinced.

He said that since the High Court order prohibited Moswaane from submitting a name to the IEC; the IEC could not look away but was obliged to respect the court order by refraining from accepting the nomination papers.

“Accepting the nomination despite the court order would have amounted to aiding and abetting the commission of a crime of contempt of court by Mr.Moswaane,” said Rannowane as he dismissed the application by the BDP with costs.

“This country is well-known and respected the world over for its democracy and respect for the rule of law. Our strength as a country lies in our continued respect for the rule of law including respect for court orders even if they can reasonably be perceived to be wrong or unfair. None in this country, including IEC is above the law, and it was duty bound in the instant case to respect the court order. To hold otherwise will be creating a dangerous precedent which may in future lead to anarchy and lawlessness,” the judge said.

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