Gaborone - Botswana opposition leader Duma Boko, who led the coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change, has vowed to overturn President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s election victory in court, alleging that he won the vote via “massive electoral discrepancies”.
Boko has questioned the integrity of the voters roll, saying many UDC members, including his own wife, were turned away at the ballot box due to errors made by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
“The summary of the voters roll showed the total number of registered voters as 753470.
“However, if one counted the total number of individuals listed in the detailed version of the roll, there were in fact 1002320.
“This is a truly massive discrepancy - a difference of fully 33% - a third of the voters roll,” said Boko.
Masisi’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) extended its 53-year grip on power after winning 38 out of 57 constituencies in last Wednesday’s poll.
The BDP rallied from its worst-ever electoral performance in 2014 despite a split caused by the departure of former president Ian Khama, who endorsed the opposition in the build up to the election.
The UDC only won 15 seats, compared with 17 seats in 2014.
However, Boko argues the number of voters was inflated. He believes there was a significant discrepancy between the number of people the IEC said were on the roll in March and the actual total when counted.
Boko also claims 75689 people did not have their gender recorded on the roll, disqualifying them from voting according to section 13A of the Botswana Electoral Act of 1968.
“Legally, one is not entitled to vote if their gender is absent from the voters roll,” he said.
He also said the low turnout in several former opposition strongholds in the capital Gaborone, compared with the 83.8% turnout nationally, was suspicious.
The opposition lost seats it has won in the last five general elections, including his own - Gaborone Bonnington North - where he lost to the BDP’s Annah Mokgethi.
“We will be challenging the outcome of the election with the legal means available to us by way of a high court application.
“In the course of that application, the full details of the egregious crimes committed by the BDP regime and their cohorts will be laid bare for all to see,” Boko said.
The UDC has 30 days from the date of the election to file legal objections. This will be the first time a legal challenge is launched on national results of an election in the diamond-rich country.
IEC spokesperson Osupile Maroba said they had not received any formal complaint from any party, but said if the UDC was unhappy with the outcome, they were free to approach the courts.
“The laws of Botswana allow him or any person to challenge the outcome of an election result.
“We don't expect anybody to come to us, but they can approach the courts,” Maroba said.
He, however, believes the election was free and fair.
e denied allegations that ballot boxes were tampered with and that opposition parties were not allowed to accompany ballot boxes from polling stations, as claimed by Boko.
The 50-year-old lawyer, Boko, questioned why the IEC only made the final voters roll a month before the election.
“Such late provision of the voters roll does not allow for proper checking and verification by the political parties, thus undermining the democratic process required for free and fair election.”
BDP spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse said the UDC must approach the courts and desist from inciting the public with unsubstantiated claims.
“We had observers - regional and international - to observe and there has not been any reports of discrepancies, but if they have evidence they must go to the courts. We believe the elections were free and fair,” he said.