11 June 2019

Botswana: Court Dismisses Application for Case Postponement

Mahalapye — Mahalapye principal magistrate, Mr Solomon Setshedi will tomorrow (June 13) deliver judgement on a case in which Mothusi Maribe is challenging Ms Dorcas Makgato's registration to vote at Chadibe during the coming general elections.

Mr Maribe,59, of Madiba ward in Mokobeng argued that the Sefhare/Ramokgonami MP had registered to vote at Chadibe even though her principal residence was Gaborone, thereby violating the provisions of the law.

Earlier when the trial begun, Maribe asked for the postponement of the matter, arguing that his lawyer was engaged in other matters in Maun, but the request was declined by the magistrate.

Dismissing the application to postpone the matter, Mr Setshedi said as per section 18 (4) of the Electoral Act, the applicant on May 20, filed papers objecting to Ms Makgato's registration at Chadibe, indicating that 'she does not have a place of residence at the said location'.

Mr Setshedi said both parties were informed that the matter had been set for June 6 and the applicant was informed well on time, adding that the reasons presented before court by the applicant did not warrant a postponement.

Again, the principal magistrate said there was nothing on record to show that the applicant was legally represented.

"The application for a postponement is dismissed as it does not hold water, therefore the court shall proceed with hearing the adjustments of the case from both parties," said Mr Setshedi.

Presenting his arguments, Mr Maribe said the respondent does not reside at Chadibe and 'I believe a person must register at a location of principal residence.'

Further, he argued that Ms Makgato 'does not have a place of residence at Chadibe'. However, the magistrate asked him to quote the legislation relating to the issue to support his argument.

"I cannot quote the relevant authority, all I know is that it is within the law for a person to register at their place of residence," said Mr Maribe.

Through his investigation, Mr Maribe said he had established that Ms Makgato was born at Sekgoma Memorial Hospital in Serowe. "Her parents do not have a residential place at Chadibe. I understand that her parents are residents of Gaborone," he said.

Mr Maribe also added that Ms Makgato as MP for Sefhare/Ramokgonami was being paid housing allowance by government and she resides at Gaborone.

The magistrate asked the applicant if he knew the plot number of the respondent's residence in Gaborone. "I do not know the exact location of her residence in Gaborone, but I believe she was supposed to register to vote in Gaborone, since she stays there."

Mr Maribe further told the court that allowing people to register at locations not their principal residents was a serious violation of the law, which would contribute to voter trafficking and ultimately defeat the conduction of transparent and fair elections.

He said Ms Makgato was a leader and legislator expected to abide by the law. "As a responsible citizen, I saw it fit to bring such a matter before a court of law. I take such a matter seriously, because it will assist in fair dispensation of the electoral process, which is part and parcel of our democracy," said Mr Maribe.

Mr Maribe further said the only residential place at Chadibe belonged to Ms Makgato's grandparents and it was inherited by Ms Joyce Makgato and not the respondent, hence his objection.

Responding, the defence attorney, Mr Simwe Mwiya of Kebabonye Mwiya Attorneys stated that the applicant's case was not substantiated. "I have difficulties with the applicant's case, since most of the points he presented before court are allegations and rumours that cannot be substantiated."

Mr Mwiya objected to the applicant's plea that was not filed with papers, saying, "The only person who receives any form of documentation from the respondent is the presiding magistrate."

He stated that the applicant was supposed to gather all the necessary information on his own and even call witnesses if necessary to support his case.

In addition, Mr Mwiya said a residence had different meanings.

He said in her responding affidavit, his client had filed that, "As Minister of Transport and Communications, I have a residence at Phakalane and as an MP for Sefhare/Ramokgonami, I have an office at my constituency and a residence."

The respondent's attorney further stated that her client currently resides as Phakalane, not at Gaborone as it was presented by the applicant. She also has another residence at her farm at Mookane and at Bopedi ward at her home village, Chadibe.

He then asked the court to admit their affidavit relating to the principal residence of the respondent as factual.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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