Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Parliamentary candidates for the controversial Bulela-Ditswe primaries will be banking on the Court of Appeal to end their misery when it sits today (Friday).
The Bulela-Ditswe candidates for the 18 opposition held constituencies were left with egg on their face last month when the party central committee postponed the primaries to allow for the court of appeal to hear the case on participation of public servants in political parties’ primary elections.
The candidates have argued that the process of delaying the primaries will negatively affect them in terms of resources. When postponing the primaries the BDP leadership indicated that the campaigns would not be halted something, which the candidates said would benefit those with financial muscle.
Now with the Appeals court November mini session commencing today (Friday) the candidates have high expectation that the matter would be heard during this session so that the BDP will sanction the primaries to go ahead.
Government is appealing a decision of the High Court delivered on the 27th July 2017, in which the High Court held that section 5(5)(b) of the Public Service Act does not prohibit public officers from participating in political parties’ primary elections.
Court of Appeal President Ian Kirby has indicated that the court would study the court record and see if the case warrants to be heard by five (5) judges as requested by unions’ lawyers. He explained that the parties would be notified during roll call if the case has to be heard by five judges or a bench of three judges.
The union lawyers have called on the court to postpone the matter to the January session next year if it proves impossible to have five judges preside over the matter as the case raises some constitutional points. This was after Kirby indicated that it might be impossible to have five judges preside over the case.
When postponing the primary elections BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said they treat public servants like any other Motswana who is interested in joining and being part of the BDP. He cited Article 7.1 of the BDP Constitution, which states that membership of the party is voluntary and open to all Batswana who accept the party’s policies and programmes of action and are not members of other political parties or organisations whose policies and aspirations are incompatible with those of the party.