The court only determines matters brought before it on the basis that the applicant has a leg to stand on, a principle known as locus standi, and the presidential aspirant in the Botswana Democratic Party race – Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has not demonstrated that to the full.
The Botswana Democratic Party constitution demands aspiring candidates for the presidency of the party to demonstrate that they are above 18 or above years of age, members of the party in good standing, a member of parliament and a citizen by birth or descent. She failed to tick all the boxes as she went only insofar as demonstrating that she is a citizen without stating emphatically that she was born here or her parents were originating from Botswana if she was born outside the country. The issue of qualifications for the vacancy of presidency took centre-stage as the respondent’s attorneys argued before the panel of justices comprising Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane, Abednico Tafa and Godfrey Radijeng accepted Busang Manewe’s submission that indeed, Venson-Moitoi failed to qualify her citizenship.
“Your Lordships, the party constitution stipulates that qualifications for the post of the president of the BDP, one must state that she is a citizen by birth or descent. In her founding affidavit, the applicant has not done so. This would demonstrate her locus standi in terms of the constitution of the party that has been aligned to that of the Republic of Botswana because someone aspiring to become the party president, is essentially seeking to become the president of the land if the party wins the elections. As it is, she does not meet the requirements. She should have put all the material facts that make her eligible and by leaving out such a fundamental piece of information in her founding affidavit, she does not meet the requirements, full stop!” Manewe was emphatic.
Responding to the submission, Dick Bayford representing the applicant explained that the court should not be swayed away from the procedural matter in which the letter of reply signed off by the Secretary-General barring his client from the presidential race anchored its reason on the 26 members on the list who were not accepted as delegates because they were councillors.
“My learned friend is bringing up the substantive matter of citizenship of the applicant, while the matter that has been brought to the attention of the Lordships deals with a procedure that the BDP has raised, which we are challenging,” Bayford cried.
“But what the Respondent’s attorney is saying is that for us as the court, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the applicant must demonstrate that she has a locus standi in this court. The fact that she has not stated that she is a citizen by birth or descent and that in the replying letter, the secretary-general did not raise the issue with her eligibility is not an adequate ground for this court not to consider her locus standi,” Justice Tafa answered.