The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) will on Monday next week attempt to convince the court of Appeal in Gaborone that President Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama was wrong in refusing to appoint a local attorney, Omphemetse Motumise, a High court judge.
In a matter that will lead to clarify the role and rights of the Republic’s President vis-à-vis that of the judicial Service commission (JSC) in regards to the appointment of High court judges, LSB, through its attorneys will further debate the reasons why it believes the Gaborone High court was very wrong when it ruled that the President’s decision in that regard was final.
On 5th, February, 2016, Justice Walia of the High court ruled that President Khama had a constitutional backing to refuse to appoint a judge and that he is not obliged to give reasons for his refusal. Walia stated that even though Motumise was recommended for appointment by the JSC, that did not bind the President to rubberstamp the reccomendation.
Walia concluded that although the JSC recommend names for appointment, the power to appoint a Judge vests in the President. “He shall be the appointing authority but in the exercise of his powers as such, he may not appoint a person not recommended by the JSC,” Walia explained and added that the JSC plays an advisory role in as far as the appointment of Judges is concerned because “having made a recommendation, it falls out of the picture altogether. How then can it ever be regarded as the appointing authority?
When the case was brought before court, the argument was whether or not the President’s decision was reviewable. The LSB and Motumise argued that the decision of the President is reviewable while the Attorney General attorneys argued that it is not. However, Walia maintained that, the President derives his executive powers from section 47 of the Constitution. The said section vests the powers of the country on the state President and empowers the President to take or reject advice from anyone.
Walia was responding to the LSB’s contention that in refusing to appoint someone who was recommended above others by the JSC, the President acted irrationally and unlawfully as he did not even give reasons. However Walia maintained that the President was smart in not giving reasons because they (reasons) may damage the reputation of the rejected candidate.
“In so far as the decision may have been based on adverse information to the person of the applicant, it was, in my view, benevolent of the President to not make a disclosure in public, lest the applicant suffer damage to his reputation. In my view the President has committed no reviewable wrong in making the decision. The argument on irrational is therefore without merit,” Walia pointed out.
However LSB was not happy with the judge’s decision and when it challenges his ruling on Monday, the contention would be that, in as much as Walia said the President was not obliged to disclose the information, he did not have facts before him to prove whether indeed or not the President’s decision was a justified one.
“There were no facts before the court to establish whether the decision was in fact motivated by concerns of either national security and policy or information in relation to the second appellant (Motumise,” LSB’s grounds of appeal reads in part. LSB is advocating that shortlisted High court judge applicants should be interviewed in public so as to promote transparency.
Since Walia dismissed that point by citing privacy rules, LSB is expected to give it a try before the Appeals court because it believes, the High court erred, “in failing to recognise the general rule in relation to the protection of the privacy of the applicants who apply for high public office, that they must accept that the public has a legitimate interest in their application unless there are reasons that justify secrecy which in this case no such reasons were given.”
LSB further wants the outcome of the of the JSC’s deliberations to be made public. The court of Appeal, the highest in the land, is expected to settle the matter early February.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.