President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama’s decision to appoint current Office of the President (OP) and his legal advisor Abram Merryweather Keetshabe to the position of Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) effective 1st of March 2016 has been received with less enthusiasm by some in the law fraternity.
Keetshabe replaces former Director in the Public Prosecution Leornard Sechele who served in the portfolio for five years until his resignation in June last year which was followed by his untimely passing 3 months later. Sechele succeeded Leatile Dambe who was appointed High Court Judge.
“I can confirm that indeed Merryweather Keetshabe has been appointed to the position of Director of Public Prosecutions at the Attorney General’s Chambers with effect 1st of next month (March),” Government Chief Jeff Ramsay confirmed to WeekendPost in an interview on Thursday. He fills the shoes of the late Sechele, Ramsay continued.
A renowned local attorney Kabo Motswagole of Motswagole Attorneys has stated categorically that “I think there are more deserving people who have dedicated their lives to the DPP in the likes of Matlhogonolo Phuthego, Kabo Leinaeng, Wesson Manchwe,” who could have been considered for the position.
Motswagole continued: “all those gentlemen are career prosecutors. So to reward them with an external boss really says a lot about the current administration.” The notorious attorney emphasizes that to transplant someone from OP undermines their efforts.
According to Ramsay, Keetshabe has accepted the offer and it is a given that he will occupy the lucrative position. The reasons for the appointment are that there was an opening at the DPP and the government had confidence in only Keetshabe to take it up.
“Keetshabe deserves the portfolio as he is a qualified legal Counsel and he has won many cases in favour of government including the infamous CKGR case which rutted government against Basarwa,” he said.
Having acquired a Bachelor of law Degree from University of Botswana, in incorporation with Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, Keetshabe has before the position of General Counsel at OP, also served as; deputy Attorney General (AG) (Civil Litigation), he was also at one point a Master of the High Court, a Deputy Registrar and also a magistrate.
It is understood that, while as deputy AG, he allegedly threatened to abruptly resign from the position following his failed bid to be considered for judge-man-ship at the High Court failed -after trying his luck. However he later made a u-turn on the move and incongruously almost a month later was selected legal advisor to OP.
Prior to that, a position almost similar – special advisor to the president – was occupied by Sydney Pilane under the Mogae administration and when Khama ascended to the office he dropped him, and after sometime appointed Keetshabe. Since then, Pilane and Khama have not seen eye to eye.
However in many instances Ramsay has emphasized that Keetshabe’s position was a General Counsel for the entire OP and not only special advisor to President Khama.
Keetshabe leaves the latter position at OP vacant and Ramsay states that he is “not sure who replaces him at OP as it has not yet been announced or let alone appointment made.”
Another top notch attorney Joram Matomela of JJ Matomela Attorneys also expressed disappointment at the appointment. “Keetshabe’s appointment with regard to more qualifying officers who had applied for the job, who have more experience with prosecutions, is a vote of no confidence on those officers and will further kill the little morale, if there has been anything left since the departure of Leatile Dambe, in that department,” he asserted.
Matomela stressed that the appointment further undermines the independence of the office as Keetshabe has been working directly under the president and the appointment is more like a secondment.
“There is likely to be a perception that the OP is placing officers who are loyal to the regime in view of the fact that even the late Sechele was from the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS). Some may ask ‘what orders are they being given when handed this post’the celebrated lawyer wondered rhetorically.
However Government mouthpiece emphasized to this publication that, Keetshabe, who will go down in history as the first Motswana to be appointed Chief magistrate, is an experienced and highly respected legal Counsel.
However Ramsay would not be drawn to discuss why some inside cadres were not considered for the top post when probed on the issue by WeekendPost.
“The office of the DPP requires an Independent minded; fearless; sober minded; with high ethical standards must have the attributes of a judge. Knowledgeable in criminal law and evidence,” eminent lawyer Martin Dingake of Dingake Law Partners also pointed out.
He said the interface of the Constitutional architect of the office of the Attorney General and the DPP ‘‘is a source of great concern for me’’. The Constitution requires that the DPP consult the AG in cases of public importance and we are not told the criteria for determining cases of public importance, he observed.
According to Dingake: “we do not know who must make that determination. It's unclear what the consultation involves, whether it's for information purposes or for decision making as to prosecute or not. Whatever the case that is an encroachment in the prosecutorial functions of the DPP and the exercise of the said powers.”
The office of the Attorney General, he said is advisorial to the Executive and a member thereof. “In this regard it appears to be a strategic and tactical deployee of the Executive arm to thwart prosecutions of matters which the Executive may have interests on.”
The shrewd lawyer indicated that over the years there has been subtle suggestions that matters of national importance be whatever they are, cannot be prosecuted without the consent of the AG. ‘‘This is inimical to the independence of the office of the DPP which lies at the heart of its efficiency,’’ he said.
“The recruitment of the DPP, from the advert, is done by the AG. Why should that be the case if not to influence the appointment of an otherwise compliant person?” In my respectful view there is always a danger of populating independent institutions with people with an executive culture – these are people who professionally grew or appear to have grown within the executive branch or have a long and strong association with the executive, Dingake stated.
Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi also confirmed Keetshabe’s new role in government this week: “I am pleased to announce the following appointments of Senior Public officers; Advocate Abraham M. Keetshabe is appointed to the office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Attorney General’s Chambers with effect from date of assumption of duty.”
Meanwhile Carter also announced the appointment of Mr. Shabani S. Chikanda who is appointed on promotion to the position of Parliamentary Council with effect from 01st March, 2016.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.