Wednesday, October 21, 2020

UDC petitioners face another P3 Million legal bill from IEC

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) financial woes are far from over following another hefty legal bill from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Sunday Standard has been reliably informed that IEC lawyers Minchin & Kelly were ready to serve the UDC petitioners with letters of demand following the latter’s unsuccessful attempt to challenge the 2019 General Elections results earlier this year.

The petitioners, including UDC president Duma Boko, face new legal fees amounting to a cumulative P2, 9 million.

Minchin & Kelly’s Managing Partner Terrence Dambe however refused to be drawn into discussing the matter saying he was not at liberty to do so, citing attorney and client confidentiality.

The IEC bill comes just a few months after Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers   Bogopa, Manewe, Tobedza & Co served the coalition candidates with letters of demand over the High Court and Court of Appeal legal fees that also amounted to millions. 

Each of the 23 petitioners was expected to part with at least P300, 000 for costs incurred at the High Court and the Court of Appeal for the BDP legal team alone.

Gaborone South parliamentary candidate Nelson Ramaotwana was, for instance, expected to part with up to P392, 000 in total for costs incurred at both High Court and CoA.

It is not clear yet how much they will each pay for IEC legal costs.

UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa was quoted in the media early in July this year (2020) saying the party were still raising funds for the legal costs. “We do not have enough money yet but we are still asking from our members to contribute anything they may afford. It should be understood that the total cost will be known once the Registrar of High Court has finalized assessment on the cost and whether they were high or not. The party will take it from there and inform the members on the way forward,” Mohwasa was quoted as having said.

Attempts to get answers from coalition attorney Dick Bayford have proved futile as he kept referring our enquiries to the UDC. Sources within the party have however revealed the party has failed to raise enough money from supporters and sympathizers to cover the legal costs.  

The UDC had led a marathon of court cases following the opposition coalition’s failure to win the 2019 national elections. Some of the losing parliamentary candidates took a decision to initiate election petitions in respect of at least 15 constituencies, predominantly in the southern part of Botswana.

The petitions led by party president Boko, if successful, would give the coalition another go at wrestling power from the ruling BDP.

The UDC accused the BDP of rigging the 2019 national elections. BDP retained power, winning 38 of the total 57 constituencies, followed by UDC with 15, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) three, and Alliance for Progressives (AP) with a single seat. UDC accused the ruling party of engaging in ‘corrupt or illegal practices’ in order to win the elections. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal dismissed the petitions with costs.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Covid 19: Botswana now records 120 cases a day

Botswana’s COVID-19 daily infection rate stands at 120 cases according to the latest update by the Task Force. The country recorded 367...