The Court of Appeal (CoA) will this afternoon make a ruling on whether to expeditiously hear an appeal by the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) or not.
BMD has launched an urgent appeal seeking the CoA to overturn a High Court decision that dismissed its application for a review of its expulsion from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
A panel of three judges recently dismissed a review application by BMD after the UDC expelled it from its fold in October 2018. The High Court had said the BMD failed to produce any legal and credible case to convince the court why the UDC should not expel it.
When arguing for the appeal to be heard urgently the BMD president, who is also an advocate, Sidney Pilane urged the court to hear the matter because his party stands to lose the right to participate in the selection of UDC candidates.
“The court cannot speculate but must decide the case on the papers before it. If the court refuses the application, the BMD will lose its right to participate in the selection of presidential, parliamentary and council candidates of the UDC for the 2019 general election,” he argued.
He said the BMD rights in the UDC are either fulfilled this year or lost irrecoverably because his party stands to benefit more when they are in the coalition.
He argued that on the balance of convenience, the BMD stands to suffer greater prejudice of losing a vital right than inexpedience and inconvenience alleged by the UDC. “The public interest requires a smooth election to vote for a politician of their choice,” he added.
“The parties will sit and talk. The parties will make compromises. Politicians can surprise you. They can do miracles, as it is now with the UDC working with the former president. When it suits you, you become friends with an enemy in an instant,” he said.
However, UDC’s advocate Paul Kennedy argued that the relationship between the BMD and UDC is broken and irreparably damaged. Therefore, if BMD succeeds, it would come at a greater price for the UDC.
He argued that if the court were to allow for the BMD’s appeal to be heard urgently and further BMD succeeding, the UDC would suffer great inconvenience.
“It’s absolutely clear that the parties are at loggerheads. The UDC has already decided on the candidates and constituencies.
We are not suggesting that it is beyond the realism of possibilities for the parties to patch up but the old adage that you ‘can take a horse to the river but you can’t force it to drink’ applies here. The two parties have been fighting for a long time,” he said.
He argued that any probability does not favour any realistic chance of the parties agreeing before the nomination process.
The nomination of candidates is scheduled for September 21, while the day of the general election is October 23.