Newly elected Law Society of Botswana (LSB) Council has promised to tighten loose ends in local attorneys’ professional competencies. The Law Society strives to provide best practices, standards of ethics and information for members of the legal profession to improve professional conduct between members, their clients and the public.
Speaking to Weekend Post this week, the newly elected Chairman, Diba Diba highlighted that “we regulate the practice of law” but emphasized that they, “will not be merely regulating but to empower members to carry their practice and run well and profitable law firms.” Diba said this following their inaugural meeting on Friday which was intended to familiarize the new committee members with the current issues affecting the Council and by extension the legal fraternity in Botswana.
According to Diba, there are few priority areas that as LSB they would want to deal with from the onset that includes a particular attention on grooming young attorneys to rise quickly to the required standards in the profession. “We have to thoroughly train young lawyers that just completed their law studies as the focal point. This is precisely because their interests are divergent from that of senior Counsels. So we will continue with the legal education on the young ones,” Diba told this publication.
The new LSB chairman further went on to stress that the Council has a vigorous programme on advocacy and training when lawyers complete school adding that they train them to make them court ready. Even the more experienced lawyers, he added that they also will organize training for them because they need to understand the Accountants to effectively run their own law firms.
He continued: “Its lawyers’ businesses and any problem with Accounting is their responsibility. We will train them as lawyers on how to manage Financial Accounts despite having employed Accountants at their respective law firms.” In addition to the trainings, Diba stated that Law Society also want attorneys to familiarize themselves with the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) which most of them are not in touch with.
He observed: “there is FIA for anti-money laundering law which has requirements that lawyers need to adhere to which is one of the requirements in Know Your Customers (KYC). As LSB, we want lawyers to familiarize themselves with the Act. So we help such members comply with the Act.” The newly designated Chairman also said that they will crack the whip on non-compliant lawyers who drag the name of the profession in the mud. He said this in cognizant that for lawyers to be allocated a practicing certificate, they need to have their accounts audited so as to be qualified.
“Every year, LSB sends a list of non-compliant lawyers but we believe as new Council we can help the attorneys not to make it into the list. In fact we don’t want that list, we don’t want anyone making it in that list. We do not wish anyone do not obtain a practicing certificate,” Diba pointed out.
Legal Practitioners Act to be amended
Diba explained that in terms of the proposed amendments of the Legal Practitioners Act, they seriously need to look into the law and see whether it is appropriate in this time and era, having been passed in 1996. He reminisced that in December last year High Court ruled that lawyers are now free to advertise, so that essentially would mean that the Act has to be amended and possibly see what else to amend in the Act.
“With regard to the lawyers’ advertisement, the said judgement says we need to change the law, and that if lawyers advertise, what are the parameters. LSB will come with regulations for lawyers to advertise in which court gave us 6 months and if the government is to appeal they only have 6 weeks,” he said. The Law Society of Botswana discharges a dual role; on the one hand it regulates its members and on the other hand it represents the professional welfare of its members and the new Council has set the tone on what they will be judged with at the end of their two year term.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.