Saleshando slams BURS for “sickening” meddling in elections
• Registers his protest as Leader of the Opposition • Appeals to Batswana for patience
This year’s elections were characterised by lack of political maturity because of “unwarranted and sickening” meddling in them by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) and Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) to influence the outcome, the Leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, has said.
Responding to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Wednesday, Saleshando bristled: “For the first time in the history of our country, key state institutions, namely the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DISS) and Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), played a key role in influencing the outcome of the 2019 general elections.”
Saleshando charged that the Director General of DISS, Peter Magosi, had made disturbing public statements about the IEC database “The DISS role in the elections has put an ugly stain on the credibility of the election outcome,” he said, adding that the secret service had intermeddled in the elections for the benefit of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.
But there was little surprise in this conduct of DISS because it had been vocal in controversies around BDP primary elections. Saleshando said Batswana should be patient with those who may feel that the involvement of DISS had compromised their electoral fortunes, hence their petitioning the courts. “Possible election fraud should never be tolerated,” he asserted.
Shifting his focus to BURS, the Leader of the Opposition said the role of the tax collecting authority in the elections was to frustrate the campaign of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), especially the president of the opposition coalition, Duma Boko. “The unending searches (of) the UDC president in the run-up to the 2019 general elections were clearly not about (tax) compliance,” Saleshando pressed on. “If indeed Duma Boko has for over two years been in breach of our tax laws, why was he never charged or brought before the courts of law? The objective was never to collect unpaid taxes; they were on a political mission to obstruct, frustrate and embarrass … At times BURS, alongside DISS, targeted Duma Boko’s family in his absence.”
To-date BURS had not stated what it was looking for in the aircraft that were used by the UDC president, he noted. But their desire, as opposition members, to serve should not be misunderstood to mean they had waived their rights to be respected. It was against this background, Saleshando said, that Boko – who lost to Annah Mokgethi as a parliamentary candidate in Gaborone Bonnington North - was challenging the outcome in court.
“Our client has instructed us to institute an election petition on his behalf in the High Court of Botswana complaining about the undue election of one Annah Mokgethi who, on the 24th October 2019, was declared the victor in respect of the Gaborone Bonnington North constituency elections in which you were also candidate,” Boko’s lawyer Dick Bayford wrote to Alliance for Progressives Dr Kaelo Molefhe, extending to him a chance to become a party in the petition in accordance with Section 116 of the Electoral Act.