Khama says he has the constitutional power to disapprove
President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama has requested the Gaborone High court to dismiss a case in which the Botswana Law Society is asking the court to review and set aside his recent refusal to appoint a local attorney, Omphemetse Motumise as the Judge of the High court.
In a replying affidavit filed before court this week, President Khama explained that his decision is not liable for review by the High Court and that he has the power to decline to appoint a candidate whose been recommended for appointment by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
“I am advised, for reasons that will be more fully addressed at the hearing of this matter, that my aforesaid decision is not susceptible to review by this honourable court. Alternatively, should this court find that my said decision is indeed reviewable, that I have a discretion under section 96 (2) of the Constitution to decline to appoint candidates recommended for appointment by the JSC as judges of the High Court.”
The President further stated that in so far as the discretion reposed in him is concerned he exercised it “duly and properly and lawfully.”
“I have further been advised that the submissions advanced in the JSC’s affidavit concerning the interfacing between my powers and duties and those of the JSC under section 92 (2) of the constitution and the reviewability of my decision not to appoint the Second Applicant as a Judge of the High Court are sound and legally correct for reasons that would be more fully argued at the hearing of this matter,” the President stated.
However President Khama had also made it clear that he would not divulge to court the reasons why he rejected Motumise although he claims he had valid reasons he did not appoint him.
“First in appointing judges, I take into account a broad range of material considerations, including matters of national security, the socio-political situation in Botswana, public perception of the relevant candidate and the judiciary and questions of policy. All of these involve information to which JSC does not necessarily have access and which the JSC would, in the normal function of its functions, not be properly equipped or mandated to evaluate,” the President explained.
He was in fact quashing suggestions by the LSB that the president’s role in appointing of judges is merely ceremonial. Khama denied that his power to appoint was bureaucratic administrative function but rather “an executive power that does not fall to be reviewed by a court.”
“However there will in nature of things from time to time, also where there will be occasions where it would be inappropriate to appoint a nominee where the reasons for doing so will adversely reflect upon the integrity, character and reputation of the relevant nominee. It would be inappropriate for me under such circumstances to disclose the reasons for not appointing the candidate concerned as such disclosure would be prejudicial to that person. The withholding of reasons in such circumstances would be in the interest of the candidate,” the President filed another excuse for withholding information.
He further stated that the reason he would not impair candidates integrity by divulging the reasons he rejected them is because he wants the best candidates not be discouraged from applying for appointments. The contention is that if the best candidates were to be deterred by the fear that their names would be tarnished if they were to be rejected for appointment, then the fear may stop them for applying for appointment and the end result would be a compromised judicial system characterised by poor quality and integrity.
Equally the Judicial Service Commission has filed its arguments on this matter and it agrees with the President in most points.
In its submissions filed before the High court the JSC contends that transparency is actually not that important in the country’s constitution as it is in other countries.
“It is important to note that transparency is not a constitutional imperative in Botswana as it is in other countries. In summary, in the present case, the interests of transparency must be weighed against the privacy of individual candidates and the national interest that the best candidates for judicial appointments must be encouraged to apply free from the fear that their private or social lives will be subject to public scrutiny,” reads part of the JSC filed papers.
The JSC comprises of among others, the Chief Justice and the Attorney General.
According to JSC the President has every right to reject a nominee if he has valid reasons to do so.
The matter is yet to be argued before court. It is a case in which the LSB and Omphemetse Motumise are challenging the recent decision by President Khama to refuse to appoint Motumise to the High court bench.
Motumise got the best grades from the interview but the President rejected him and appointed Zein Kebonang as acting Judge. Kebonang is a twin brother to Sadique Kebonang who sits in Khama’s cabinet and he got the least marks during the interviews for appointment.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.