Botswana’s judiciary finally decided on Wednesday to hear opposition petitions challenging the fairness of the October legislative elections won by the ruling party since the country’s independence in 1966.
According to provisional results released by the Election Commission, the Democratic Party of Botswana (BDP) won 38 of the 57 seats in parliament.
Its chief Mokgweetsi Masisi, head of the country since 2018, was elected head of state despite the unprecedented sling of his predecessor Ian Khama (2008-2018), who slammed the door of the BDP and accused him of authoritarian drift .
But the main opposition party, the Coalition for Democratic Change (UDC), denounced many irregularities and lodged an appeal to cancel the poll in 16 of the 57 constituencies in November.
A first court had dismissed it in December. The Gaborone Court of Appeal overturned this decision on Wednesday by announcing that it would finally hear the motions of the UDC on January 29.
« I see no reason to reject the opposition’s demands », said judge Singh Walia at the hearing, « the files concerned are of national importance which justifies their being examined without delay ».
The UDC’s appeals are based on accusations by a BDP whistleblower, Emmanuel Mohalodi.
In an affidavit of which AFP obtained a copy, Mr. Mohalodi confessed in particular to having organized the double vote of “thousands of people” in five constituencies of the capital, an opposition stronghold, which all fell into the regime’s camp.
He also accused President Masisi of « coordinating the whole operation ».
The head of state has for weeks systematically denied all allegations of electoral fraud.