2pm: Story breaks that Venson-Moitoi has filed an urgent Court action against the Botswana Democratic Party. With her team of lawyers led by Dick Bayford she wants her delegates to be approved and that the congress be postponed to allow time to deal with arising irregularities. She wanted to have access to the voters roll and to have the rules of elections well spelt out.
The Broadhurst Magistrate Court was filled to capacity on Thursday morning. But matter could not immediately proceed as three judges who recused are Justices Itumeleng Segopolo Modiri Letsididi and Ranier Busang, all citing being conflicted on the matter. Matter adjourned to 1030 when the Registrar was to name new judge and matter moved to the High Court.
1130 am: Three judges
A panel of three judges led by Chief justice Terrence Ranooane, with Justice Godfrey Radijeng and Judge Abednico Tafa is named to hear the matter. Judges arrive at 1130 am and decide to push the matter to 2 pm to allow the parties to reach an out of court settlement.
1230pm: Moitoi, Masisi meet
The two parties meet but fail to find common ground. Moitoi insists on recognition of her delegates list and postponement of congress. Masisi with party elders disagree and decide that the congress should proceed.
1400 hours: Case resumes
As it had been planned the case resumed at 2 pm with Chief Justice together with his panelists hearing the case with arguments by the lawyers representing Moitoi and BDP. In a fully packed court room the two groups of attorneys argued based on different submissions as raised per by their clients.
BDP lawyers in court
BDP Lawyers’ main argument was based on the ground that the matter is a dispute arising from politics therefore the courts should not intervene; and hence dismissing Moitoi’s interdiction.
They further argued that Article 13.6 of the BDP constitution provides remedy to the applicant’s request (Moitoi). They also argued that Moitoi had since started rolling her campaign back in December and should have as such registered her protest early.
Dick Bayford argument
Dr Venson-Moitoi’s lawyer Dick Bayford in his argument said that the BDP leadership should have seen the need to clearly state the rules on Presidential elections when Moitoi wrote to the Secretary General. He said that during the time only the BDP was privy to the voters roll. He said his client had no better remedy on the matter at all than to appeal to court’s intervention.
1900 hours: Court adjourns
As more anxiety rocked all, the court was adjourned by 1900hrs after five (5) long hours of argument submissions by the legal representatives of the parties. Chief Justice made announcement that the verdict will be delivered at 10pm on the night. Only a few leave the High Court as they await ruling.
10 pm arrives
The court room once again is filled to capacity with multitudes of people waiting for the judgement including BDP veteran politician Daniel Kwelagobe, unionist Johnson Motshwarakgole, and former Mogoditshane MP Patrick Masimolole. After more than an hour’s delay, the Chief Justice and his panel arrive.
In less than a minute the Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane delivers the judgement with the court ruling against Venson-Moitoi and dismissing her application. The judges noted that the urgent application by Moitoi was self-created; arguing that the matter had no sense of ‘’urgency’’ at all.
Moitoi pulls out
1240pm: The Serowe South MP addresses a press conference in Kang where she announces her withdrawal from the presidential race, saying it was sham and had been rigged from ‘day one’.
2pm: Masisi endorsed
The congress starts in Kang and Masisi is endorsed as presidential candidate for the General Elections. Visible absentees are former President Ian Khama and MP Samson Moyo Guma – Venson-Moitoi strongest supporters. Khama was said to have been in Mosu – his private home while Guma has skipped the country on grounds that his life was in danger. He is suspected to be residing in South Africa.
Analyst’s view: Masisi should dig deeper to unite the Party
Political Analyst Professor Zibani Maundeni when reflecting on the aftermaths that comes with heavy blow suffered with Venson-Moitoi said the party has this year found itself in the dirtiest situation ever in its history.
He said the divisions in the party remain visible and this should be a cause for concern for the party, more especially president Masisi who has a mountain to climb in bringing the democrats under one roof ahead of the elections.
“Tension, unease and pride is what is currently rocking the BDP on what remains to be the worst situation in the party’s history at all. The problems have now gone deep based on what transpired around the court case against Venson-Moitoi,” he added.
He said a lot is at stake at the moment between the warring parties, noting that it is possible that based on the weight that the presidential elections possess more than primary elections in terms of divisions, Masisi should now work harder to remedy the party from disrepute.