Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has called for the resignation of Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo following the suspension of four high court judges by the president, Lt Gen President Ian Khama.
President Ian Khama suspended four law lords following the brewing administrative issue in the judiciary relating to housing allowances. The four judges; Justice Key Dingake, Justice Modiri Letsididi, Justice Mercy Garekwe and Justice Ranier Busang were slapped with suspension letters last week for “undermining the Chief Justice and bringing the judiciary into disrepute.”
In a strongly worded press statement released this week BOFEPUSU blamed the Chief Justice for failing to deal with a small matter which could have been handled internally.
BOFEPUSU called the decision to suspend the quartet “the antithesis of democracy, separation of powers and the rule of law if the head of the Executive, an equal and comparable arm of the Government can suspend judges willy-nilly”.
“Mr Dibotelo can no longer be trusted to uphold the constitution of the Republic of Botswana, safeguard the independence of the judiciary and preserve its integrity,” read the statement released by the federation Deputy Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa.
BOFEPUSU said Chief Justice Dibotelo’s penchant for petty gossip, lack of tact and sophistication, has resulted in what was a purely administrative matter being elevated to a criminal matter, and then an inquiry into the fitness of judges who have served the country impeccably and administered justice without fear or favour, “Under his leadership of the Judicial Service Commission, political acceptability to the Executive has become the main criterion for appointment to the judiciary,” the statement reads. “This is a position that the Chief Justice has shamelessly defended.
According to Motshwegwa, personalities and egos are at play to the detriment of the integrity of the judiciary. “The judicial is scared and the judges are seen as noble and revered men and women of high agility,” he said. “It is clear that managerial and leadership capabilities of the CJ are being put to test and we are shivering with fright that things are falling apart and disintegrating before him.”
BOFEPUSU further refers to the situation as a “circus playing within the judiciary”, and says as a result of the diminishing line between the executive and judiciary separation of powers is under siege. “The continued suspensions of judges with the blink of an eye with so much haste and lack of regard for consequences thereof will set an environment of intimidation and unrest within judges,” the union said.
The federation contends that given the role of the judges in society where they are expected to uphold justice even on injustices committed by the Executive, they should be be accorded security of their occupation and they be allowed to discharge their duties with freedom guided by the pursuit of justice and professionalism.
The union also warned President Khama to desist from taking steps which will not only compromise the integrity of the court’s structures but also plunge the democracy into crisis.
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.