Chief Justice Terence Rannowane has expressed grave concern about a huge backlog of pending criminal and civil cases particularly at Magistrates Courts, the coalface of the judiciary.
Giving a key note address at the Administration of Justice stakeholder conference in Francistown this week, Rannowane pointed out that delays in any system frustrates and erodes public confidence. In the case of the courts, Rannowane said it impacts on the ease of doing business and impedes Government endeavours of making the country a prime choice for Investors and the resultant job creation.
“Pending cases include those that are ripe for prosecution and those in which investigations are still on-going. As we all know, the duty of the courts is to try cases and not to investigate them. The courts cannot be blamed for the delays relating to pending cases which are still under investigations,” Chief Justice disclosed. Rannowane admitted that as key stakeholders, they need to have a common understanding of what constitutes the backlog.
He mentioned that the conference therefore must ensure that stakeholders take accountability for the delays at different stages of the case in the value chain. As the Judiciary, Rannowane said they have come up with short term measures to address the problem. “We initiated the appointment of acting judges to deal with some cases as diaries of substantive judges are clogged. The same dispensation will be extended to the Magistracy. We are also reviewing the efficiency of the Special Courts such as the Small Claims, Stock Theft, Traffic and Family Courts,” he explained.
According to Rannowane, the high court has been operating with fewer judges than the establishment allows, with the result that there was simply a disproportionate workload which automatically translated into backlog. He indicated that they have managed to recruit eight judges, four of whom have already started work whilst the reminder is expected to start next year adding that they expect that this positive development will help to greatly reduce the backlog.
The Chief Justice expressed optimism that increasing and enhancing physical access to court services, by for instance, establishing High Court Division in Maun will accelerate the disposal of cases due to reduced travelling and related logistics translating into more time dedicated to court sittings. He pointed out that Combined Rules Committee is also dealing with the amendment of rules to among others, usher in Court Annexed Mediation and E-filing to further improve and expedite the disposal of cases.
Rannowane told the delegates that he expects the submission of the draft rules before the end of this month. Once the rules are enacted, the judiciary will be expected to operationalize the program next year. Meanwhile, when officially opening the conference, Defence Justice and Security minister, Shaw Kgathi mentioned that Botswana is likely to be red-flagged globally by not having strong measures in place to curb money laundering and financing of terrorism.
“If we are red-flagged it will certainly affect all Government and private sector, financial transactions, systems and the economy at large,” he lamented. The minister divulged that Botswana is expected to do more with respect to effectiveness of the intervention measures such as establishing national organisational structures envisioned in the provisions of the relevant acts. According to Kgathi, Botswana is expected to put in place robust systems for controlling and monitoring the flow and outflow of money through the banking s and non-banking systems.
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.