Salakae's petition cast doubt on IEC credibility

Salakae at Gaborone High Court. PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Salakae at Gaborone High Court. PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

The former MP for Ghanzi North, Noah Salakae contends that some ballot boxes retrieved from the truck that is the subject of a court case relating allegations of election rigging were sealed whilst others were not.

Salakae demands answers on why there was inconsistency in the matter.

Salakae of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has petitioned the High Court about the outcome of the Ghanzi North constituency’s general elections results.

He was voted by 4, 717 while Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) candidate John Thiite won by 4, 893 votes. In his court papers, Salakae said he agreed with the Independence Electoral Commission (IEC) secretary, Keireng Zuze in her affidavit that the returning officer was obliged to deliver the election documents to the Registrar of the High Court.

However, he said in the present case, the returning officer had no intention to satisfy this obligation as the truck that was carrying ballot boxes for both Ghanzi North and Ghanzi South constituencies, was instead driven to Indaba Lodge and not the High Court premises.

 “It shall be argued on my behalf, I am advised, that had it not been for my timeous intervention of approaching court on urgency, the election material in question would have been delivered to a destination other than the one envisaged under the Electoral Act,” Salakae said.

Salakae said he had no knowledge of the type of ballot boxes District Commissioner Mooketsi Lesetedi had gone to collect from his office, particularly that they were sealed advance poll ballot boxes as alleged.

He said even if the boxes were sealed advance poll ballot boxes, Lesetedi did not state how and where precisely in his office were the said boxes kept and in addition it is curious that in certain instances Lesetedi refers to a box, whilst in others he refers to boxes.

He continued: “What is of note is the lacklustre manner in which Lesetedi dealt with the said boxes, assuming that some were sealed advance poll ballot boxes as he alleges.

There is no suggestion that the vehicle was kept under guard and if so, by who”. Salakae also said the act of leaving the boxes in the vehicle was in itself irregular and no reason has been proffered as to why same had not been taken into the hall at the time when Lesetedi arrived thereat.

He said Lesetedi’s manner of collecting the boxes lacked transparency and was surreptitious. And that there is no explanation as to why the ballot papers were not sealed at the conclusion of the counting as required by Section 74 of the Electoral Act.

Salakae wants explanation as to why Lesetedi decided to keep the ballot papers in the receptacles referred to, unsealed for a period of six days.  

He said Lesetedi’s act, in which he was alone, of emptying the ballot papers from the receptacles into the ballot boxes, and in the absence of all interested parties defeated the requirements of transparent poll.

However secretary for IEC Zuze said Salakae failed to set out and let alone satisfy the requirements for an interim interdict.

She argued that the whole application is based on conjecture, speculation and lack of appreciation for the electoral process and that it was unnecessary.

Zuze said the IEC was not served with the process and to that extent any adverse order for costs should not be made against it.

“I am advised that the returning officer is thereafter obliged to deliver all documents relating to the conduct of the elections to the Registrar of the High Court.

Having outlined the election process, I aver that as will be seen from the affidavit of Lesetedi, the process was followed and this application therefore unnecessary,” Zuze said. The case will be heard on November 21, 2019 before Justice Christopher Gabanagae.

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