KANG: Secretary-General of the Botswana Democratic Party Mpho Balopi at the official opening of the extraordinary congress in Kang told the attendants that the aspirant presidential candidate Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has shied away from the race at the eleventh hour.
“The constitution dictates at article 29.1.2 that when the party is in power, the president of the party shall be elected by secret ballot at the Congress…I received a letter of intention to contest from Mrs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to which she attached a list of 50 members in good standing who sponsored her candidature. I replied by accepting her intention and advised accordingly. She subsequently complied and submitted. Both names of the contenders for the presidency were accepted being His Excellency the President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi and Ms Venson-Moitoi,” Balopi announced.
However, this intention to run for the presidency was short-lived as on the day the Congress convened, a handwritten letter renouncing her will to continue with the race was read aloud to a thunderous applause of the party faithful who chanted slogans of victory for the unmarked incumbent, giving President Masisi smooth-sailing to the helm of the party.
“In accordance with article 30.6.6 that empowers the president of the party to exercise his powers to appoint an ad hoc commissioners of elections, upon realising that he was a contender for the presidency, His Excellency abrogated such powers to the chairman of the party Slumber Tsogwane who appointed a five-member commission headed by Professor Mpho Molomo to conduct and regulate the election for the party president. But I just received a handwritten note with a promise that a typed letter will follow suit from Ms Venson-Moitoi and it reads thus: ‘Dear Secretary-General. I hereby withdraw my name from today’s elections. Yours truly, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi,’” Balopi informed a stunned crowd.
The marquee was momentarily pregnant with tension. Fearing some slips that might result in the legal manoeuvre if the authenticity of the letter could not be established, though it was rumoured that some people saw Ms Venson-Moitoi approaching the tent only to deliver the letter and turn backwards, the commissioner of elections, called out her name three times so she could step up to the plate and exercise her constitutional right to contest for the office. When Prof Molomo was satisfied that ample opportunity was granted, it was publicly declared that President Masisi who had been endorsed by all the 14 regions was unchallenged for the party presidency.
“By virtue of the powers vested in my hands, I, therefore, pronounce His Excellency the President Mokgweetsi Masisi as the party president duly elected at this congress,” he announced amid deafening cheers and whistles of well-wishers.
Venson-Moitoi withdrew her candidature from the presidential race after her application before the Gaborone High Court was dismissed with costs because the panel of three justices unanimously agreed that she did not have a locus standi ÔÇô a principle in law that refers to a leg to stand on in which the applicant is expected to have her hands washed clean to receive the favour and mercy of the court. She had failed to demonstrate in her founding affidavit that she was a citizen by birth or by descent, a fundamental requirement spelt out in the constitution of the party for an aspirant for the vacancy of the president of the party.