- BDP leadership tells party members - Leadership fears backlash - BDP has been accused of supporting IEC in the case

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP leadership has issued an instruction to party members not to get involved in any debate regarding the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Botswana Guardian has learnt.

The UDC is currently embroiled in a legal tussle with IEC over monitoring and observing the voter registration process. IEC is currently appealing the decision of the High Court Judge Gaolapelwe Ketlogetse, who has ruled in favour of UDC.

UDC has taken IEC to court demanding that it be allowed to deploy its agents to monitor and observe voter registration. The IEC has since postponed the registration process indefinitely.

Sources within the ruling party have revealed that the BDP leadership is worried that if its members get involved in the debate, it will fuel speculation by the opposition that the party wants to rig elections.

It is alleged that the leadership after having observed how the debate has unfolded especially on social media fears for a backlash ahead of the voter registration and general elections.

When the case started some members within the BDP indicated that they would not allow the UDC agents to check their Identity Cards (Omang) during the registration.

The UDC believes that monitoring the registration process will reduce, if not eliminate chances of election rigging, which the party argues that it starts from registration process.

It is also believed that if there is monitoring of the process, this will reduce voter trafficking. Other opposition parties even though they support the monitoring of the registration process have not joined the case.

The BDP was in 2019 accused of rigging elections by the UDC after it won the elections with huge margins. The UDC petitioned the courts on the matter and lost the case.

BDP Communications and International Relations Sub Committee Chairman, Kagelelo Kentse refuted claims of an instruction from the party leadership. He said the position of the BDP is that it will not get involved in any way in the ongoing legal proceedings.

He said the party will respect the law and allow the process of the courts to unfold and respect whatever decision would have been made by the courts. He stated that it is well within the UDC’s rights to approach the court to seek any redress they want.

Ketlogetswe has ruled in favour of the opposition UDC in an interdiction application against the Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane and the Acting Registrar of the High Court over the empanelling of three judges to preside over the case.

After losing twice against the UDC, the IEC wants Justice Ketlogetswe to recuse himself in another case involving empanelling of justices. Justice Ketlogetswe handed the UDC two temporary victories against IEC for the observation and monitoring of the voter registration.

While it was expected that Ketlogetswe would hear the empanelling of judges matter the IEC moved an urgent application seeking an order directing Justice Ketlogetswe to recuse himself from hearing the case arguing that the judge has an interest in the matter.

IEC secretary, Jeff Siamisang stated in court papers that the Commission does not make the application lightly and that it is compelled to do so to safeguard its constitutionally entrenched rights.

He avers that the constitution affords every litigant the right to have their matter heard fairly. According to Siamisang that right means that a litigant should not have his or her matter heard by a judge who has an interest in that particular case. He argued that the judge must be impartial and independent.