Monday, October 25, 2021

Government asks High Court to quash EVM case

Government has asked the High Court to throw out a case in which Botswana Congress Party (BCP) wants to interdict the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from using the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Government has made an application requesting the court to dismiss the writ of summons which was filed before court by BCP.

In papers before court, the State argues that BCP is delaying in filing an application as opposed to a writ of summons which was initially made by the party in interdicting EVMs.

The Attorney General called on the BCP to speed up its case as prescribed by the rules of the High Court.

The State states that the writ of summons was duly served on government on 23th March 2017 and it filed its memorandum of appearance to defend on 19 April.

The Attorney General states that the BCP is in breach of court rules because the party was under obligation to file its declaration, if any within 14 days from the date of service, which means the declaration ought to have been received by the court registry not later than 10th May.

The state expressed concern that the BCP has not complied with the rules of the High court nor any communication whatsoever relating to the difficulty it may be facing and why it is has not complied with the Rules of the Court.

The Attorney General says that noncompliance of BCP as demonstrated by their not filling prejudice the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration (which intends to procure the machines) and by extension the general public.

“I draw this court attention to the fact that BCP issued out summons through its attorneys demanding that the procurement of the EVM’s be suspended pending the outcome of the litigation. A copy of the letter was also served on the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Secretary of the IEC who are tasked with the procurement of the EVM’s and they have since made an undertaking that they would stop the procurement process pending the finalization of the litigation,” said the acting Attorney General, Stella Moroka.

The State argues that the BCP conduct amounts to frustration of the litigation process which would result in the EVMs not being used at the 2019 General elections.

The Attorney General says it is concerned at the “defective manner in which the party started off its proceedings which was by a way of writ of summons when the facts reveal that it was more appropriate for them to launch an application.”
Moroka accused the BCP of adopting delaying tactics. She said a trial normally takes a longer time to complete as parties have to call the witness to give oral testimonies. “It has now not complied with the rules of the court on the filling and serving of court process for no apparent reasons,” she said.

She contends that government “is eager for the matter to have meaningful progress and eventually get concluded to enable government to buy the EVM’s within time in the event it would have won the case.”
She added that “even if there are no prejudices, the non-compliance negatively affects the rules of court as their binding nature is eroded. There has been no compliance as required by the Rules of Court and lack of explanation prompting the applicant to have no option but to request for dismissal BCP’s action in terms of the notice of motion.”
Moroka argued that such failure is a contravention of the mandatory Rules of High court and fatal to the BCP actions.

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