BDP council candidate wins electoral court case

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The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) council candidate for Woodhall ward in Lobatse, Thebe Baile has brushed aside attempts to strike him out of the voters’ roll by an independent candidate.

This would have meant that he would have been disqualified from contesting for elections billed for October.

Her competitor, Tefo Seetso approached the Lobatse Magistrate’s Court challenging Baile’s eligibility as a voter in Woodhall ward.

Seetso argued that Baile was registered as a voter in Woodhall ward at Plot 2440 even though it is not her principal residence as per the electoral act.

“Baile to the best of my knowledge is married and works in Gaborone and stays there with his wife and children at his principal place of residence. He allegedly has a church in Gaborone. I make my objection about Baile’s inclusion in the voter’s roll at the nearest IEC office following the Electoral Act,” he stated.

In his defence, Baile stated that he attends church in Gaborone and that his wife and children also stay there while he stays at the said plot in Lobatse.

“The applicant is motivated by hatred, frustration and jealousy. Ever since he knew that I am a BDP council candidate in the area jealousy has taken his better part.

His behaviour has been out of order, before. He has used social media to attack and insult me. He has also verbally assaulted me. As for now, there are two cases still pending before your court by the Woodhall Police,” he stated.

Delivering a ruling, Lobatse Principal Magistrate Gofaone Morweng said Seetso’s objection is devoid of merit and dismissed it. She said the applicant lodged an application in terms of Section 67 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana.

The particular Section provides thus “A person shall be entitled to be registered as a voter (a) in the constituency in which he or she has his or her residence, or if he or she has more than one residence in Botswana in the constituency in which he or she has his or her principal residence”.

The application is borne out of his intention to object to the inclusion of the names of the respondent, Baile in the constituency voters’ roll and which process is guided by Section 17 of  the Electoral Act (Cap 02:09) Laws of Botswana.

“This court has perused the applicant’s founding affidavit and his material contention is that the respondent does not reside at Plot 2440 Woodhall ward in Lobatse and therefore he consequently removed from the voters roll of the particular constituency,” Morweng said. The respondent, Baile, opposed the same application and detailed circumstances qualifying him to be registered in the related voters roll.

“Like any other ordinary citizens, he had an opportunity to stay at different locations in Botswana due to the nature of his employment. He indicated that at all the material times he had continuously preserved his attachment to the particular location.

Ultimately after his retirement in the year 2017 he returned to the same location with some sense of permanency where he continued to reside until to date. It was incumbent on the applicant to demonstrate that the respondent was not principal resident at the said location. The applicant only shifted the goal post when called upon to substantiate his allegations as contained in his founding affidavit.”

She said the applicants objection is devoid of merit and it is dismissed as such and the principal registration officer shall fore-with be notified of the decision of the court regarding this objection. The BDP has been winning Woodhall ward for the past 20 years. Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it has received 1, 549 cases of voter registration objections related voter trafficking countrywide.

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