Mr President, I am not what you say I am – Motumise
The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) and Omphemetse Motumise, an attorney who President Lt Gen Ian Khama Seretse Khama recently refused to appoint as the judge of the High court maintains that Khama has violated the country’s constitution and has a strong case against him before court.
As the hearing date for the case draws nearer by the day, all parties involved in the matter including President Khama, Judicial Service Commission (JSC), LSB and Motumise continue to share heated points of contention which they intend to debate on before court.
This past Friday morning, Motumise and the LSB filed replying affidavits to President Khama and the JSC answering affidavits on the matter.
Motumise maintains that he ought to have been appointed the Judge of the High court because he is not what Khama perceive him to be.
‘Since I do not personally interact with the President, and he avers that he has reasons for rejecting advice to appoint me, he could only have derived any information about me from informants. The first respondent (President) does not explain why he cannot disclose his informants to me and allow me to face them in my defence. The reluctance to disclose reasons to me, if any exist, I submit is borne out of fear of placing on record the identity and modus operandi of the informants who would be operating outside the law by placing citizens under surveillance to collect allegedly private information,” Motumise had explained.
Hi says the criteria adopted by Khama and the circumstances under which it is applied are matters known only by him. This state of affairs according to Motumise is inconsistent with principles of legality as practised in a democratic society. He added that although the constitution obliges the President to appoint in accordance with the advice of the JSC, he has decided that he will prefer the advice of others to refuse to appoint. This approach he says makes the divide between the Executive and the Judiciary invisible and thereby politicises the appointment of judges.
“This is manifest from his reliance on political considerations and the advice of Cabinet. Our constitution never envisaged that judicial appointments could ever be debated by or subjected to Cabinet approval,” Motumise stated and added that, he does not understand what purpose the criterion of the socio-political situation serves “nor is this explained, unless the first respondent is looking to appoint individuals whose social and political views, associations and orientation meet with his approval.”
That notwithstanding, Motumise wrote to the court that there is nothing in his socio-political orientation and background which renders him a threat to national security or unsuitable for appointment.
“I have been apolitical, non-partisan and independent as evidenced, among other things, by ten years I served as Deputy Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, an appointment held under the Constitution of Botswana. I submit that those are some of the essential attributes of a person who seeks to hold judicial office. I also submit that a person who is partisan and politically orientated and active is unsuitable for appointment by the reason of the fact that he or she is liable to political manipulation and bias,” he further stated.
A few weeks ago, Khama has stated in his answering affidavit filed before court that when he makes appointment he takes into account a broad range of material considerations including matters of national security, the socio-political situation in Botswana, public perceptions of the relevant candidate and the judiciary and questions of policy, and by implication suggested that Motumise could have failed to satisfy some.
The LSB Executive Secretary argues that the considerations cited by President Khama are irrelevant to the appointment of the Judges. Nonetheless, Motumise who would want his name cleared before the court denies that he could have failed the test as even remotely, he can never be a national security threat or “whatsoever.”
“I submit that no discretion can be exercised duly, lawfully and properly when a person’s reputation is tarnished without being afforded a hearing. The first respondent implies that disclosing such information might be embarrassing to me. But he could disclose it to me and afford me an opportunity to defend myself and to contest the veracity of any adverse information he holds against me. He does not explain why as a citizen of this country I am not entitled to that fundamental constitutional right. What is embarrassing and humiliating is the very suggestion that the President might be holding embarrassing information about a citizen,” Motumise further stated.
A court of law, Motumise intends to submit, cannot be called upon to accept that an official duty was performed duly, lawfully and properly in the absence of reasons. His contention is that to deny him reasons is to deny him due process and the protection of law.
He however agreed with Khama that there should be checks and balances between the Judiciary and the Executive.
“But I submit that it cannot be correct that only he can check and balance the judiciary while it cannot in turn review the exercise of his powers.”
Khama had contended that the court does not have the power to review his decision of refusing to appoint Motumise as the Judge of the High court.
The LSB however maintains that the case does not centre on the reviewability of President Khama’s decision not to appoint Motumise as a judge of the High court but rather the interpretation of section 96 (2) of the constitution which the President derived his powers from.
In addition to the order reviewing and setting aside of the President’s decision not to appoint Motumise, the applicants seek further declaratory relief in relation to Khama’s powers in terms of section 96(2) of the constitution and the conduct of the JSC in matters relating to the appointment of judges.
The P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga that has been before court since 2017 seems to be losing its momentum with a high possibility of it being thrown out as defence lawyers unmask incompetency on the part of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
The Gaborone High Court this week ruled that the decision by the State to prosecute Justice Zein Kebonang and his twin brother, Sadique Kebonang has been reviewed and set aside. The two brothers have now been cleared of the charges that where laid against them three years ago.
The United States (US) will on the 3rd of November 2020 chose between incumbent Donald Trump of the Republicans and former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democrats amid the coronavirus pandemics, which has affected how voting is conducted in the world’s biggest economy.
Trump (74) seeks re-election after trouncing Hillary Clinton in 2016, while Biden (77) is going for his first shot as Democratic nominee after previous unsuccessful spells.
US Presidents mostly succeed in their re-election bid, but there have been nine individuals who failed to garner a second term mandate, the latest being George W H. Bush, a Republican who served as the 41st US President between 1989 and 1993.
Dr Mark Rozell, a Dean of the School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia describes the complex US electoral system that will deliver the winner at the 3rd November elections.
“The founders of our Republic de-centralised authority significantly in creating our constitutional system, which means that they gave an enormous amount of independent power and authority to State and local governments,” Dr Rozell told international media on Elections 2020 Virtual Reporting Tour.
Unlike parliamentary democracies, like Botswana the United States does not have all of the national government elected in one year. They do not have what is commonly called mandate elections where the entire federal government is elected all in one election cycle giving a “mandate” to a particular political party to lead, and instead US have what are called staggered elections, elections over time.
The two house Congress, members of the House of Representatives have two-year long terms of office. Every two years the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, but senators serve for six years and one third of the Senate is elected every two years.
For this election cycle, US citizens will be electing the President and Vice
President, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the open or contested seats in the Senate, whereas two thirds are still fulfilling the remainder of their terms beyond this year.
An important facet of US electoral system to understand given the federalism nature of the republic, the US elect presidents State by State, therefore they do not have a national popular vote for the presidency.
“We have a national popular vote total that says that Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Donald Trump or in Year 2000 that Al Gore got a half million more votes than George W. Bush, but we have what is called a State by State winner takes all system where each State is assigned a number of electors to our Electoral College and the candidate who wins the popular vote within each State takes 100 percent of the electors to the Electoral College,” explained Dr Rozell.
“And that is why mathematically, it is possible for someone to win the popular vote but lose the presidency.”
Dr Rozell indicated that in 2016, Hillary Clinton won very large popular majorities in some big population States like California, but the system allows a candidate to only have to win a State by one vote to win a 100 percent of its electors, the margin does not matter.
“Donald Trump won many more States by smaller margins, hence he got an Electoral College majority.”
Another interesting features by the way of US constitutional system, according to Dr Rozell, but extremely rare, is what is called the faithless elector.
“That’s the elector to the Electoral College who says, ‘I’m not going to vote the popular vote in my State, I think my State made a bad decision and I’m going to break with the popular vote,’’ Dr Rozell said.
“That’s constitutionally a very complicated matter in our federalism system because although the federal constitution says electors may exercise discretion, most States have passed State laws making it illegal for any elector to the Electoral College to break faith with the popular vote of that State, it is a criminal act that can be penalized if one is to do that. And we just had an important Supreme Court case that upheld the right of the states to impose and to enforce this restriction”
There are 538 electors at the Electoral College, 270 is the magic number, the candidate who gets 270 or more becomes President of the United States.
If however there are more candidates, and this happens extremely rarely, and a third candidate got some electors to the Electoral College denying the two major party candidates, either one getting a majority, nobody gets 270 or more, then the election goes to the House of Representatives and the House of Representatives votes among the top three vote getters as to who should be the next President.
“You’d have to go back to the early 19th century to have such a scenario, and that’s not going to happen this year unless there is a statistical oddity, which would be a perfect statistical tie of 269 to 269 which could happen but you can just imagine how incredibly unlikely that is,” stated Dr Rozell.
BLUE STATES vs RED STATES
Since the 2000 United States presidential election, red states and blue states have referred to states of the United States whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates.
Many states have populations that are so heavily concentrated in the Democratic party or the Republican party that there is really no competition in those states.
California is a heavily Democratic State, so is New York and Maryland. It is given that Joe Biden will win those states. Meanwhile Texas, Florida and Alabama are republicans. So, the candidates will spent no time campaigning in those states because it is already a given.
However there are swing states, where there is a competition between about five and 10 states total in each election cycle that make a difference, and that is where the candidates end up spending almost all of their time.
“So it ends up making a national contest for the presidency actually look like several state-wide contests with candidates spending a lot of time talking about State and local issues in those parts of the country,” said Dr Rozell.
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.