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Court to determine IEC’s objection to inspection of ballot boxes

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The High Court will on Wednesday hear arguments on why the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has moved to object to the inspection of election material.

After seemingly to be in agreement in open court for an inspection of election material to be done in the presence of lawyers of the parties, initially set for Saturday morning, the IEC last Friday turned around and objected to the inspection.

The notice of objection reads in part; “the first respondent (the IEC) objects to the inspection of the cast ballots, spoiled ballots, unused ballots, ballot paper verification account, statistic and all papers issued per polling station and ballot envelope account;”

The IEC further says it objects to the inspection on the basis that “the petitioners have failed to demonstrate good and sufficient cause to inspect the documents above. Further the documents are irrelevant to proving and or disapproving any fact in issue, as identified in pleadings before court.”

The inspection of the ballot have since been halted pending the Wednesday decision after the registrar of the high court noted that he was constrained to allow for an inspection after the objection.

Speaking to Voice Online, UDC lawyer Boingotlo Bogopa explained the move by the IEC as nonsensical.

Six of the disputed election petition cases have proceeded to trial including that of former member of Parliament of Gantsi North, Noah Salakae, while others are before the Court of Appeal after being turned down by the High Court in a majority ruling.

Meanwhile the BDP this morning (Monday 13th) issued a statement questioning the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction over election petitions of MP candidates that were thrown out by the High Court.

“The Court of Appeal will on the 29th January 2019 listen to the appeals of 15 MP Candidates and one Council Candidate that were recently dismissed by the High Court. The BDP has through its attorneys raised a preliminary point that the Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction on appeals from decisions of the High Court on election petitions of MP candidates. The Court of Appeal may only hear appeals from decisions of the High Court concerning Council Candidates and thus may only listen to the Ramatsebanyana Appeal,”

The party says it has obliged to the request of the Court that the fifteen (15) appeal cases be consolidated into one (1) as arguments are similar in all. “As the Party in government, we call for an expedited verdict to allow for efficient conduct of the business of government and ensuring calm to the nation as we move on past the 2019 general elections. The BDP reiterates its firm believes in the rule of law, an independent judiciary and free and fair elections for our continued legacy as a beacon of democracy in Africa.”

@sharonmathala
sharonm@thevoicebw.com

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How Gov bluddered on first Corona virus death

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*Hundreds exposed to the virus

Government secrecy and unreliable communication this week dealt a devastating blow to the fight against Corona virus, exposing hundreds of people to infection in Gaborone and surrounding areas.

As people reeled from the announcement of the first Corona Virus death in the country on Tuesday afternoon, it has emerged that government had known about the 79- year- old Ramotswa woman’s status since Thursday last week and concealed the information both to the family and mortuary that handled her body.

On Wednesday afternoon traumatised Babereki Ka Lorato Mortuary staff spoke of how they were unnecessarily exposed to the deadly virus.

Speaking in an interview with The Voice Newspaper on Wednesday, the concerned Chairman of the mortuary, Martin Gabokake said the woman was brought in a body bag on Friday.

“Our employees asked why someone who had died at Bamalete Lutheran hospital a day before was brought in a body bag and they were told she died of asthma, and so they let the body in and handled it in the manner they normaly handle all other bodies,” Gabobake explained.

He went on further to explain that it was only yesterday that to their shock and horror the staff was told of the true nature of the old woman’s passing.
“ Had we been told the truth to begin with, the body would have been handled in a safer way. The fact that they brought her in a body bag means they new something and they blatantly lied to us,” Gabobake said.

Her funeral was also not accorded the security screening associated with Covid-19 deaths, a source has revealed. Health officials have since asked villagers who had attended the old woman’s funeral to submit for testing as they to may have been exposed to the virus.

This was another terrible blunder by government. Had they disclosed that the old woman had died of COVID -19 or even told us that she was a suspected case, most of us would have kept away,” said the source.

Meanwhile government moved to quarantine 14 family members on Tuesday. All mortuary employees and close associates of the woman were also locked up for observation on Wednesday.

Colleagues of the deceased grandson, who works for a local hotel, have also been summoned for mandatory testing.

“Her grandson (name known to this publication) continued working with us and it was business as usual. He did not know his grandmother had the virus and died from it. They were very close. He is the one who took care of her and took her for hospital visits,” the worried colleague has revealed.

Efforts to get a comment from the grandson were futile at the time of going to press. In a telephone interview from quarantine he told The Voice that he wished for privacy.

Botswana has recorded one death as a result of the COVID-19 with three positive cases currently stable at the Sir Ketumile Teaching Hospital in Gaborone.

There are 189 negative results, 593 lab test performed and 1856 people currently on quarantine.

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Politicians clash over Covid-19 meeting

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The fight against Covid-19 stepped into the periphery of partisan politics this week as the absence of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders sparked accusations and counter-accusations over their invitation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s closed meeting.

UDC President, Duma Boko and party vice president, Dumelang Saleshando, were not part of the delegation that attended the three-hour long meeting.

Although Masisi stated that Boko, like other party leaders was invited, the UDC has vehemently denied the claim.

In a press release that was issued last night the UDC said. “We have noted the events that have been evolving around the Covid-19 pandemic, its a serious matter that requires all of us to work genuinely. We value and encourage national dialogue on important matters such as the fight against Covid 19. The truth is that the UDC president has not received any invitation from Office of the President and we call OP to provide proof.”

However, when the UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa was asked about calls made to him by OP, he said, ” I was asked about Boko’s whereabouts by Kaelo Molefe and I told him I was in Phikwe. I asked him to check him at his house. This morning I got another call from Professor Mpho Molomo who said he had Boko’s invitation to a meeting with President Masisi and I suggested that they go to his house, an address which is popular within the government enclave. I indicated to him that I had received a similar call from Kaelo Molefhe and he said he was with him. Kaelo knows where Boko stays having been his associate in the build-up to the 2014 General Elections. So quite frankly I doubt he would say he does not know Boko’s house. As regards Nick and Keorapetse I cannot comment on their behalf, ” explained Mohwasa last night.

Dithapelo Keorapetse too said that the OP was being playful. “Why would they contact me for DGB? They are aware of his PA, VP, Secretary General, Spokesperson and UDC NEC. These are the people from who to check him. Whoever wants the UDC President from me for official things is playing. The state has been to his house several times. How did they suddenly forget his place of abode? Even Kaelo knows Boko’s House from his UDC days, ” said Keorapetse.

The accusations did not go well with the BDP Chairman of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, who expressed concern that the UDC was turning a pandemic into a political mudsling.

He said that all efforts including calls, text, WhatsApp messages to Boko, Moeti, Keorapetse and Boko’s bodyguard were made without any success. “There is a communication trail to prove this. UDC must know when to come to the table and be patriotic on issues on national interest such as COVID-19, its very disappointing for a party calling themselves an alternative government to behave in this manner but Batswana are watching and we know they will punish them for this.”

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