Masisi’s legitimacy as President tested in court

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Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi is under siege, as some members of his ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are challenging his legitimacy as party president. According to the country’s constitution, the Vice President of the country automatically becomes the state president upon the retirement of the president.

But one of the factions led by a member of the BDP, Kamal Jacobs, has launched an application challenging Masisi’s legitimacy as the president of the party. Traditionally, the president of BDP also becomes state president.

In papers before court, Jacobs states that Masisi does not have powers to appoint any party structure. Jacobs, who lost BDP primaries to Dr Thapelo Matsheka recently for the Lobatse constituency in southern Botswana, said Masisi’s legitimacy to the BDP presidency is questionable. 

Jacobs also argues in the court papers that he intends to use Masisi’s predecessor former President Ian Khama as a key witness in the case. Khama and Masisi recently fell out over a number of governance-related matters.

According to Jacob’s attorney, Kagisano Tamocha, enjoining Khama into the case meant that, “Masisi may have to forgo his immunity so he lays his claim to the presidency and in the process, questions will be posed to him and he will have to answer.”

Jacobs and his attorneys argue that “Masisi cannot answer and there was no clarity in regards to the legitimacy of his presidency.”

Tamocha has since requested for an adjournment to allow Khama to file his affidavit regarding Masisi’s presidential legitimacy.

Recently, Khama was quoted by local media as saying he has received legal advice that he remains the party president until he is replaced at the next party congress, due next year July.

According to local media, although the party maintains Masisi automatically became party president when Khama handed him over the state presidency, Jacobs and his team hold a different view: “As much as I know, Masisi is not the BDP president. He has not been elected by the party congress to be its president.”

However, Jacobs maintains that he and his team have not met with Khama before enjoining him in their suit, but strongly believe that he would have been compelled by an order of the court to submit an affidavit.

The BDP attorneys at Bogopa, Manewe, Tobedza and Company argued that President Masisi enjoys immunity from civil proceedings for any action done by him in his personal capacity, which includes as acting as BDP president per Section 41 (1) of the constitution of Botswana. The BDP submitted that the case be dismissed with Jacobs costs. 

 

 

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