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Did police help Tsogwane 'steal' elections?

MPHO MOKWAPE
Vice President Tsogwane during the elections' ballot counting PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has accused the police of helping the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to steal elections.

According to the ongoing petitions before court, one petitioner, Sam Digwa and his co- petitioner Michael Molathiwa allege that the police were used to steal elections in the Boteti West constituency in favour of Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. Tsogwane won the elections with 7, 006 votes against Digwa’s 6, 713 while Molatlhiwa trailed behind with 344.

Digwa of the UDC who was a candidate in the 2019 elections for Boteti West Constituency says one ballot box at DHMT polling station was taken by a police and only returned after a while.  According to the filed petition, it says on the polling day around 5pm at the station, a uniformed police officer left the polling station with a ballot box and went outside the polling station with it.

“One Mr Abednico Tsikwi confronted and questioned the police officer on where he was taking the ballot box and to the shock and dismay of Mr Tsikwi, the police officer threatened to lock him up and accused him of having smoked marijuana,” reads the petition.

Digwa explained that after the exchange of words between the police officer and the said Tsikwi the police proceeded to leave the polling station with the ballot box, saying the incident happened in the full view of the public.

The petition further pointed out that after an hour or so the police officer re-entered the station with the box and that the disturbing incident was reported to the returning officer with the request of the full names and particulars of the police officer to no avail. “The matter was reported to the returning officer and they did not act on the complaint

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raised and during counting of ballots, the returning officer unreasonably refused numerous requests from the petitioner for recounts,” reads the petition.

Further on the irregulars regarding the elections, the petitioners allege that they were denied reasonable access to observe the conduct of elections on the pretext that there was inadequate space while the ruling party’s agents were granted unlimited access.

The petitioner explained that at the DHMT polling station, their agents reported that certain voters were allowed to cast their votes despite possessing expired national identity cards which decision was said to be at the discretion of the Independent Electoral Commission.

The petitioners pointed out that while others were allowed to vote with expired identity cards, one voter was allowed to cast without his name appearing on the voters’ roll at Seokwane tent polling station.

Above all, the petitioners said the extending of voting hours at one polling station when there was no voter in the line was unlawful and so too the refusal to allow the agents to witness the sealing of the ballot boxes at different polling stations in the constituency.

Digwa explained that one of the seals for ballot boxes for the parliamentary elections was visibly broken and the seal for him was removed which compromised the security and integrity of the ballot papers.

“Your petitioner and co - petitioner contend that in the light of the averments stated, the provision for Section 65 A (12) (c) of the Constitution have been violated in that elections in this constituency cannot be said to have been conducted efficiently, properly, freely and fairly.

The results should be rendered null and void,” they said.



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