As he defeats Siele, Pilane
A day after the leader of opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Duma Boko, suffered humiliation when state organs - the Botswana Revenue Services (BURS) and other security agencies - searched his house at Tlokweng over tax issues, he celebrated victory on a different matter on Friday.
His candidature to stand as an MP for Gaborone Bonnington North was questioned over claims that he did not register for elections at his principal residence. However Village Chief Magistrate Goodwill Moakofi saw things differently when he dismissed John Siele, an independent council candidate in Gaborone Bonnington North's application on Friday. Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President and private attorney Advocate Sydney Pilane represented Siele.
Siele had filed an objection over the principal residential address used by Boko when registering for the General Elections, indicating that the Phase 2 address that Boko has registered with is not where he resides. The discredited former BDP hopeful with his attorney Sydney Pilane submitted that Boko's principal residential address is plot 576231 located in Masetlheng ward, Tlokweng therefore he has contravened the Electoral Act.
Boko, on the other hand, was represented by Dick Bayford, Dutch Leburu and Olehile Mantswe amongst an esteemed panel of six attorneys.
Delivering judgement on Friday Chief Magistrate Goodwill Makofi of Village court dismissed Siele's application that Boko and his wife Kaone Boko be struck off the voters roll for violating section 67 (3) of the constitution. Magistrate Makofi said according to the evidence presented before him, plot 19746 in Phase 2 is Boko's principal residential address which he legally used to register for the 2019 elections as well. He indicated that Siele's objection grounds on Boko's registration has been that Boko has never stayed at Phase 2 but resides full time in Tlokweng where he could have instead registered at.
"The objector John Siele and his application counsel allege that Duma Boko who is Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North has registered using Phase 2 address instead of Tlokweng which is his full time residential address. However, Boko's affidavit presents that he is staying at Phase 2 plot 19746 which is also his mother's residential address, hence is his correct principal residential address," said Makofi delivering the ruling.
Boko in his affidavit indicated that in fact he has three (3) residential addresses attached to his name with two in Tlokweng and the other one being the disputed Phase 2 where he contests elections. The affidavit further indicated the owner of the plot being Mogwera Leshomo knows about Boko residing at the plot which he leased as the office for his law firm before turning it into a residential plot later on.
In an interview after the judgment, Siele told this publication that he was not happy with the court ruling, adding that the Magistrate has been expected by High Court to proceed with ruling. He said this is due to the fact that they have filed two urgent applications before the High Court which would be heard on Monday hence they would like that the ruling be not delivered on Friday.
Siele expressed dissatisfaction on how the magistrate conducted the matter claiming that at some point the magistrate has been guiding Dick Bayford when making his submissions. He also said the magistrate was reluctant to heed to the evidence that they presented such as information on Boko from BURS officials, Tlokweng Land Board and Standard Chartered, which he said all depicted Boko's residential address as Tlokweng.
"This case is far from over and Boko should hold his excitement. We know that Magistrate Makofi is somehow related to Boko. He connived with Boko's lawyers in compiling this shocking ruling. UDC is not a party ready to take state power too, only in dream land," he protested.
The UDC leader, when addressing the media and jubilant supporters after the ruling, said Pilane will never succeed in his mission of destabilising UDC ahead of elections saying the case was politically motivated. He indicated that he had remained calm knowing that the court will not in any way rule in favour of Siele's objections as that will be depriving him his right to vote as a Botswana citizen.
"We will continue to conquer and defeat Pilane and BDP's sponsored motives like this case. It was just a useless case with baseless accusations and I know the objectors have been sponsored by a whooping P 5 million to bring me down," Boko said, adding that even if Pilane and Siele could appeal the judgment in Heaven they will never succeed because the ruling came under a manner which the law operates and nothing else.
Boko and the taxman
Boko has had running tussles with the taxman, a development that his followers have reduced to abuse of power by the governing party. Earlier this year, Boko had his Range Rover impounded by BURS over outstanding tax bill. He also had aircrafts he had hired for UDC campaigns grounded by the same agency on the grounds that they had not followed proper process of operating in Botswana. This week BURS was again guests at Boko's Tlokweng residence where they could only accost his family as he was outside the country.
The UDC and Boko are not amused of developments and have repeatedly warned President Mokgweetsi Masisi against using state organs to fight political battles. "We have noted with great concern the continued use of state apparatus by Masisi's Government in harassing and intimidating political opponents. Today, and throughout this week, Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) has been invading the home of UDC President and Leader of the Opposition Duma Boko, harassing the family, enquiring about the movement of Mr Boko, the mode of transport he uses and which border used to travel to South Africa. All of this is a violation of the private rights of Mr. Boko. What is currently unfolding in our Political landscape is catastrophic for our democracy, particularly in an election year. These can be summarised as acts of cowardice, intolerance and an attempt to retain power by all means including undemocratic ones," wrote UDC head of communications, Moeti Mohwasa in a statement.
The Leader of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Ndaba Gaolathe, has also added his voice. "This can't be right. News has reached me that personnel from the BURS, accompanied by armed officers from another Government department of the Executive branch of Government spent an extended period at the Boko home, despite their knowledge of Cde Boko's absence from the country. To be more precise, they visited Mma Boko and the children, to interrogate them about matters relating to a person whose absence they are aware of. This is a typical case of unjust governance, a blatant abuse of power and a disregard of the basic tenets of fairness. Injustice is injustice regardless of the name of the person to whom it is being administered. If Hon Boko has committed crimes or is being suspected of so doing, then the system should attend to him in accordance with due process. This should worry all fair minded citizens. We cannot afford a further entrenchment of injustice nor should we encourage the celebration of a creeping authoritarianism. I have said it before, that I live to fight injustice, and it does not matter the hour or the victim, I will always fight on the side of justice," said Gaolathe in a social media post.