Kagisano Tamaocha, a lawyer representing Kamal Jacobs of Lobatse constituency in a case which he is challenging legitimacy of President Mokweetsi Masisi as the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), turned the court into a circus during festive season, earning the wrath of Judge Michael Mothobi in the process.
The matter came before Justice Mothobi during the festive season as an urgent application and was heard on the 27th and 28th of December 2018. The matter was supposed to be argued on four points: admission of Attorney General as a friend of the court; urgency; legal immunity and misjoinder. The court started with arguments on admission of AG of which AG was granted application to be cited as a friend of the court. After that, it was the urgency argument, of which the ruling will be delivered next week Monday.
Should the court rule that the matter is urgent, the parties will then proceed to argue on the immunity leg followed by misjoinder, and if not, the case will have to follow the normal route and wait for the date in which the court will decide to allocate a date. Below is the interchange between lawyers of the three parties and the judge as they had heated arguments.
Kagisano Tamocha: This matter is urgent my Lord. The degree of urgency varies from case to case. By virtue of Masisi not being president of the BDP, he had no powers to appoint Appeals Board Committee which later on dismissed my client’s application to have a re-run in Lobatse. The board which dismissed my client was unconstitutional because Masisi is not the legitimate President of the BDP.
We are saying this because even before my client consulted me, there was an article in Mmegi newspaper where the former President Ian Khama claimed he is still the president of the BDP Judge: How do you want me to treat that information when it was written by a third party? Did you even have Khama endorsing an affidavit confirming the said article?
Tamocha: No, we did not serve him. Judge: So what do you want the court to do with this piece of information? If you did not serve Khama and you do not have his affidavit claiming the said position, do not mention anything to me about him. He has never sworn to an affidavit on the said allegation. Tamocha: I find myself in a frying pan. Judge: When did your client first become aware there was some kind of alleged controversy regarding the leadership of BDP? Tamocha: On October 26th. Judge: Will it be wrong for me to assume he got to know after his application to have a re-run was rejected? Tamocha: It was during the consultation when I told him about the article. Judge: Are you appearing as a lawyer or a witness? Tamocha: Both Judge: I have never seen that! A lawyer! And you are even talking about an article by a third party! Tamocha: I have deposed an affidavit that I told my client about the said article. Judge: Do you know that I can have the Law Society investigating you for doing that? How can a lawyer do that? Tamocha: I did not know that it was wrong to do that. I will scrap off the affidavit. Judge: It is impermissible…And if we accept this evidence, it means this whole application was triggered by an article…And tell me what was your client doing from October 26? Tamocha: There are events that transpired from October 26. My client was not happy and he appealed and on November 26, he became aware of his disapproval. So, I want the court to give him benefit of the doubt that despite that information being in the public domain, he might not have seen it. Judge: Okay…except that on the 23, like you said, you disclosed it to him. You must know how to keep confidential information as a lawyer. Tamocha: He got knowledge that his appeal didn’t succeed on October 26, and he launched this application on December 17. And his main prayer is to have a re-run in Lobatse. If the matter is not heard on urgency, the general elections might come before he is heard. Judge: How is a re-run possible when you haven asked me for a review? This argument is misleading and misplaced. It does not understand the power of this court. This is the case which requires case management procedures. There are so many different views of facts here….You see, there is not even an affidavit from anybody that, ‘I am the true leader of BDP,’ or that, ‘I have been appointed by the true leader to be a leader, and not Masisi.’ Tamocha: You are putting me in a frying pan. And I’m trying to run away from that. Judge: (smilling) But I am not chasing after you…I am right here…Should I really continue to go on with this matter? Maybe take a moment with your client. Tamocha: He is not here. Judge: But you have his phone.
Court adjourns for 15 minutes.
Tamocha: I was not able to get hold of him. I will stick with the arguments I have already placed before court…..
Meanwhile, BDP lawyer Busang Manewe implored the court not to treat the matter as urgent, saying Kamal has not behaved like a candidate of urgency. Manewe: If the applicant does not swiftly and immediately approaches the court, they have waved their urgency. This Kamal joined the BDP on November 9, 2016. President Masisi was sworn as President on April 1, 2018, and he simultaneously became president of the BDP. For almost two years, Kamal has been a member of the BDP, and when Masisi was sworn as president, he was still a member.
Masisi continued to carry duties as the BDP president and nobody challenged him; he addressed Central Committee of the BDP, and nobody challenged him. On August 11, 2018, he addressed a meeting of all 38 held constituencies at Palapye, and Kamal was in attendance. The key issue at the meeting was primary elections. Kamal never asked Masisi who he was, and he goes on to take part in primary elections.
Judge: What if he was waiting for the right time? Manewe: Out of disgruntlement of losing primary elections, he appealed, and on November 14 he was advised that his appeal was not successful. And he does nothing, five days later, he sent his lawyer to come collect his letter. This shows there is absolutely no urgency about it.
What was he doing all these six days after his appeal was dismissed? Judge: What if he was still consulting? Manewe: As an applicant he ought to have followed up his lawyer if he knew his matter was an urgent. Judge: How can an applicant bother a lawyer when a lawyer understands cases better? Manewe: He ought to have known that when you approach the court on urgency, you disrupt the internal business of the court. Judge: That is not true. I was no interrupted. I am sitting here as a vacation judge. The court plans for such matters. Manewe: I submit that this applicant does not meet the threshold of urgency set by the courts. His application should be dismissed with costs.
HOW AG WAS ADMITTED AS A FRIEND OF THE COURT
Chief State Counsel Otlaadisa Kwape: I have just received an answering affidavit from the applicant this morning in court and I have sent it to AG (Abraham Keetshabe) to respond since he is the one who deposed the founding affidavit. He has showed interest to respond on two points. Judge: If he is really interested in this case, he ought to be here with us. Kwape: We can adjourn for two hours. Judge: So, AG is in the office and wants us to adjourn? Can’t he send someone or talk to you through technology? We have postponed this matter for so long, it will be prejudicial! When you want to come in as a friend of the court you are now in an area called ‘discretion’ of the judge. And you tell me AG is sitting in the office and wants us to wait, it does not please me at all… He should himself be here next to you bagging you with your coat. I know these things. I have represented AG before. But because you want to do this to help me deal with this matter, I will wait. I am sorry this case is going this way, but it is an important case, and enough information will help me as a judge so that I do not make mistakes. Remember I’m just alone in this case though cases of this nature would attract at least five judges. Go and convey my sentiments to your principal and tell him not to forget he is coming to me as a friend of the court.
Court adjourns Court resumes
Kwape: We just filed a replying affidavit for an application to be granted leave as a friend of court or as a co-respondent in the proceedings. In our arguments we are citing the case of Professor Kenneth Good. Judge: Don’t come to me and cite rules of the Court of Appeal (CoA) unless the case was to decide on a High Court decision. Kwape: it was to decide a decision of the CoA. But, as the highest court, its decision binds any other court. Judge: It is not true. Not everything is binding. Here in the High Court we do not follow decisions of the CoA blindly. It is not just a general blanket statement. That is what we teach first year students wrongly! …It is going to be a long day for you, I see… Kwape: Indeed my Lord…According to Section 52 of the Constitution of Botswana, AG is the Principal advisor to the government. AG has an interest in interpretation of certain provisions of Botswana constitution, which seeks to protect the president of legal proceedings in his private capacity. According to Section 51 Rule 41 (II) anything that HE may do, he cannot be sued for any act that is done privately, but anything done officially he can be sued. And here we cite the Motswaledi case…May his soul rest in peace Judge: This is not a church or something, just go straight to your point. Tell me how that case is relevant. Kwape: The then President, Khama, was spared from being sued for things he has done privately. Judge: But how do you fit in here as AG. Have I said I need a friend to assist? Kwape: The second respondent in this matter is President Masisi, and Rule 41 is entitled to protect the incumbent president from being sued, in particular things he did in his private capacity. Tamocha’s turn to argue Tamocha: AG should not be accepted as a friend of the court in the case. The same case AG cited of Good, the role of a friend of court is to draw the attention of the court to relevant matters of law to which attention would not otherwise be drawn. AG has stated that their interest is in interpretation of the law, and this has already been raised by the first respondent, the BDP. Judge: Isn’t it a different approach? Here they say automatically they are joined. They are now telling the duties of AG to the president, and this is a different thing from what the BDP is arguing. They are here saying they are obliged by legislation and it has not been raised by other respondents. Tamocha: They are not bringing anything new. It depends on the matter Judge: Exactly their point… Tamocha: We submit that their application is improper
At the end, the judge granted AG application to be cited as friend of the court, and the court is yet to give reasons on its decision.
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.