It has since emerged that a thick dossier, originally stowed away across the Mediterranean in London archives might have strongly shaped views of judges presiding over a case in which the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) and attorney Omphemetse Motumise were suing President Ian Khama over exercising discretion in appointment of judges of the High Court.
The dossier allegedly contains arguments uttered by then Prime Minister Seretse Khama and his deputy; Ketumile Masire in February 1966 over what form the country’s constitutional template was to take. In the molding process of the Republic, Khama and Masire allegedly stated that as heads of the executive they intended to stay out of the realm of appointment of judges and leave that privilege to the Judicial Service Commission.
The Botswana delegation at the constitutional talks at some point included political figures such as Phillip Matante who eventually pulled out. A member of the British Crown’s delegation apparently agreed to Khama and Masire’s words, responding in essence that in that case, the executive can exercise only a formal role of appointment while the JSC can act a more practical role. The JSC was at the time comprised of among others the Attorney General and Chief Justice.
LSB legal minds stated this week that they got wind of the London minutes from a local newspaper article. It was unavailable at the Gaborone National Archives. It was then that they flew to London to retrieve the dossier which helped solidify their case even though it was already late in the proceedings. Tshiamo Rantao of Rantao Kewagamang Attorneys stated that “we looked for them and we couldn’t find them. In 2015 after the filing of the application, we found them in the National Library in London.”
After securing the dossier for the landmark case, they stated that they had to make an application for the newfound evidence to be included. LSB Vice Chairman Onalethata Kambai also stated that it was pure luck for them as lawyers representing the Attorney General chose to not oppose the application even though it was prejudicial to their case. An attorney who was arguing the LSB case before court, Gosego Garebamono noted that the LSB had now been redeemed after it was bashed and trolled following the High Court defeat.
He also noted that the trolling however worked to solidify their resolve and fuel their energies to fight the case further. Moreover, Garebamono stated that their view has always been that Section 96(2) of the constitution does not give the President discretion in appointment of judges describing it as so easy that “even a Form 5 student can discern its meaning.”
Garebamono stated that the ruling is going to be important for Botswana and the region as it has set a notable precedent. He also said that he will not be surprised if a similar case explodes in South Africa due to similarities in the country’s judicial appointments. “It will have and it does have international significance,” he stated. He further noted that the new ruling will be important for the appointments of all judicial officers such as Magistrates, Court of Appeal justices and registrars of courts as the LSB has previously received complaints from them about non-appointments.
He further stated that in all fairness, lawyers representing the AG were not disputing that the president has no discretion to decline appointment asserting that “it meant that Khama could keep rejecting appointments and this allowed him to get though the backdoor what he could not get through the front door which could not have been what the constitutional framers had in mind.” In the judgements Justices Lord Abernarthy and Hamilton determined that President Khama does not have the discretion to refuse appointment, making a finding that he acts only in a formal position only.
Justice Isaac Lesetedi also determined the steps that obtain in the appointment of High Court judges. He stated that that at first, as head of the Judiciary, the Chief Justice determines the judicial needs thereof and then informs the JSC of a vacancy. The JSC will then place an advert for aspirants to apply. They will further consider the applications and hold interviews in camera and lastly the selection of names and handing them to the president.
Lesetedi then stated that the AG, as the official go-between between government and the JSC, allows Khama to raise issues such as those of national concern during the appointment process and not at the end. Lesetedi however stated that Khama may have the right to refuse appointments after the process is completed if he advances reasons. He however stated that the action is liable to be attacked in court or reviewed.
Garebamono further stated that what was curios with the case is that when Khama was given the chance to provide the record of the case, only a one paged letter was provided which only stated that there was no record. He further stated that Khama did not give reasons specific to Motumise for declining his appointment only stating that he considers socio-political and national security issues in appointing. This he said placed all sorts of conjecture on Motumise’s shoulders which he described as “particularly unfair”.
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.