Mmegi Online :: Opposition legal brains form united front
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Last Updated
Wednesday 21 November 2018, 14:41 pm.
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Opposition legal brains form united front

In what may be a possible sign of future cooperation, the legal teams representing bitter political rivals, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) displayed a rare show of unity in a case in which the Attorney General is challenging the decision by Parliament to amend its Standing Orders.
By Tsaone Basimanebotlhe Fri 07 Nov 2014, 16:38 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Opposition legal brains form united front








Like the BCP and UDC, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is a respondent in the case. However, the BDP has implicitly ganged up with the Attorney General and behaves like the plaintiff. To compound matters, the BDP has said it will launch its own suit to pursue the matter if the Attorney General opts out.

The behaviour of BDP has effectively meant the UDC and BCP are left to their own designs in the case.

BCP presidential spokesperson, Martin Dingake said they are working as a team to serve the interests of the people. “Yes we helped each other a lot on this matter. We are doing this to serve the interests of people. And we are fighting for democratic principles,” Dingake said.

Prior to the case on Thursday, the UDC and BCP lawyers including party leaders are understood to have met and spent several hours brainstorming on how to approach the matter.

Mmegi understands that UDC and BCP legal teams met at lawyer Dick Bayford’s office to confer on the summary of their heads of argument. Both parties worked closely especially on points of urgency and locus standi of the case. 

On urgency, Dutch Leburu who was leading the BCP team in court argued that the procedure

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adopted by the Attorney General violates the constitution of the country. “The constitution has divested the determination of the issue of election of the Speaker of any urgency, consequently the applicant cannot purport to rely on Order 12 rule 12 of the High Court rules to infuse urgency on the matter when the constitution provides otherwise.”

He was supported by UDC lawyer, Mboki Chilisa who said the applicants had failed to meet the requirements of urgency. Chilisa said the urgency is self-created. “The same Standing Orders that AG is challenging today has been used for 16 years and it could have long corrected it. The current Standing Orders are valid and that is why the applicants are failing to address the issue of redress in this matter,” Chilisa said.

He said courts should not allow a situation where people come to it to ask for legal opinion when there are proper procedures to follow. Both Bayford of UDC and Leburu said locus standi of the parties is a matter of fundamental substance to due process and without it, legal proceedings would be invalidated.

Locus standi cannot be conferred by consent nor can its absence be cured by a condonation by the  court, they said.

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