Thursday, July 2, 2020

MAKGATO CASE ENDS WITH NO PRONOUNCEMENT OF PHAKALANE’S STATUS

While the court case in which Solomon Setshedi challenged the electoral candidacy of Dorcas Makgato appears to be over, there is one question that the entire court process never answered: is Phakalane part of Gaborone or not?

An incumbent MP, Makgato is the Botswana Democratic Party parliamentary candidate for Sefhare/Ramokgonami constituency. Earlier this year, Setshedi made an application to the Mahalapye Magistrate Court arguing that Makgato has registered to vote in a place (Chadibe village) that she has no principal residence. He stated that her principal residence is in Gaborone.

The Electoral Act requires voters to register to vote where they have a principal residence. On the basis of the murkiness of “principal residence”, the case was argued all the way to the Court of Appeal which ruled that a voter has a right to choose their principal residence and referred the matter back to Mahalapye magistrate for final determination. This past week, the Mahalapye court dismissed Setshedi’s application. Unless an appeal is launched, this could mean that the matter is over.

Setshedi had argued that Makgato’s principal residence is in Phakalane, a stockbroker belt north of Gaborone. In her own papers, Makgato argued that Phakalane is not part of Gaborone. For some reason, the CoA didn’t make a pronouncement on that point when it handed down its judgement. Contrary to what Makgato said and notwithstanding Setshedi and the CoA’s silence on this issue, Phakalane is part of Gaborone. It falls within the capital city’s planning area, within the Gaborone North constituency and a councillor who represents it is a member of the Gaborone City Council.

Four years before this case, the Managing Director of Phakalane Estates, Lesang Magang, told Sunday Standard that the design and standards of the roads and storm drains in this area are submitted to the GCC for approval. Owing to the fact that its standards must be met, GCC is updated during the construction period and invited to all site meetings. Phakalane undertakes all construction work at its own cost and on certified completion, the roads are handed over to GCC for maintenance. The Council collects rates and uses a portion of them to maintain infrastructure of roads and streetlights as well as to collect refuse.

It remains unclear how this particular point would have affected the outcome of the case but for purposes of correcting the record, Phakalane is indeed part of Gaborone.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

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