BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has filed an application with the Chief Justice interdicting the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko’s nomination as the coalition presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections.
In their court papers, filed this past week, the BMD said Boko’s name should not be accepted pending the hearing and determination by the High Court of the Review Application brought by the party in December 2018.
The interdiction, the BMD says, should carry on even in the event of an appeal to the Court of Appeal. In his founding affidavit the BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole argues that should the party succeed in Review Application, scheduled for August 27 and 28, 2019, it would mean that the BMD has never, by reason of either their initial suspension or the subsequent expulsion, ceased to be a member of the UDC in good standing.
Mangole says as a founding member of the UDC, the BMD has at all material times had the rights accorded to a member of the coalition under the UDC’s registered constitution.
Such rights, the Secretary General contends, include the right to participate in the selection of the presidential candidate to be presented by the UDC in the upcoming 2019 General Elections.
He says the BMD should also enjoy the right to present its own president as a likely contender and candidate in the internal process of selection of the presidential candidate of the UDC in the forthcoming General Elections. Mangole says it is clear from the public position taken by the UDC that the BMD will, in violation of the registered Constitution of the UDC, be denied the vital right should the nomination of UDC presidential candidate presented by the UDC in the upcoming General Elections be accepted before the BMD’s case challenging the party’s expulsion is heard and determined by the High Court.
The rights, Mangole says, extend to the selection of parliamentary and council candidates.
Besides Boko, the BMD’s application also aims to bar all UDC council and parliamentary candidates from registering their names with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) under the UDC.
The party wants to “interdict the Independent Electoral Commission of Botswana, in its capacity as the constitutional body upon whom falls the duty to receive nominations for parliamentary and council candidates and to conduct the elections in which members of parliament and councillors are elected and any other capacity , from receiving and accepting nomination of any individual as the parliamentary or council candidate of the Umbrella for Democratic Change in the General Elections” pending the Review Application.
Mangole says the BMD would suffer great prejudice should UDC candidates for parliament and council be presented to the IEC before the Review Application challenging the party’s expulsion from the coalition. The UDC is expected to, on the day to be announced, present to the Chief Justice its nomination of the candidate the coalition desires to be its president, currently being Boko.
The coalition partners will similarly nominate to the IEC, names of their council and parliamentary candidates for the 2019 General Elections.
“It is the hope of the UDC that, as usually happens, Parliament will be dissolved, a Writ of elections issued and nomination and polling day take place before the hearing and final determination of the Review Application by this Court and, in the event of an appeal, by the Court of Appeal,” Mangole writes in his founding affidavit.
“In the latter event, which is the overwhelming likelihood the UDC will, to the total exclusion of the BMD from participating in the decision on the identification of the UDC’s presidential, parliamentary, and council candidates, make such decisions.”
Mangole says it is evident that the BMD would suffer irreparable harm if the interim interdict is not granted.
The Review Application by the BMD has left the UDC facing an uncertain future ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
While the UDC President Boko has always seemed unmoved by the proximity of the court dates to elections, BMD President Sidney Pilane is confident no one will contest the elections under the Umbrella name until the matter is resolved by the courts.
“Those who lose the case in August may wish to exercise their right to appeal, possibly prolonging the case even beyond October,” Pilane told Sunday Standard earlier this year.