The Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo has appointed a panel of judges to preside over a matter in which the JSC is a litigant, prompting the Law Society of Botswana to demand explanations of possible conflict of interest from the Registrar of the High Court.
In a letter written to members of the society early this week, the Executive Secretary of the society, Tebogo Moipolai explained that the JSC has however declined to respond to the concern.
“The law society of Botswana through its attorneys had written to the Registrar of the High court seeking clarity on the process employed to constitute the panel. Since the Chief Justice is the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission, a litigant in this matter, this clarification was viewed as necessary to address issues of possible conflict of interest.
In his response the registrar stated that he had been directed by the JSC to decline to answer the request as the matter was subjudice,” Moipolai wrote.
Moipolai further explained that even though the Registrar was then advised that the request was not directed to him as Secretary of the JSC but rather to the registrar in the discharge of his administrative functions, no response has since been received on this matter.
The society has however resolved to proceed with the status quo and will not challenge the constitution of the panel. This approach according to Moipolai is based on firstly the urgent need to focus all effort on the main matter for determination and secondly that a preliminary application would only serve to delay the determination of the main matter.
The case would be heard before Justice Singh Walia, Abednego Tafa and Solomon at the Gaborone High court and the hearing dates would be set on the 15 August 2015 following final filing of relevant court papers.
It is a case in which the society is challenging the decision of the Republic’s President, Lieutenant General Ian Khama Seretse Khama’s decision to refuse to appoint Omphemetse Motumise as the Judge of the High court following the recommendation by the JSC. Khama has since appointed Zein Kebonang as the acting Judge of the High court. Kebonang is the twin brother to Sadique Kebonang who sits in Khama’s cabinet.
The JSC has been cited as a respondent in this matter together with President Khama and the Attorney General.
None the less, at the time of going to press, it was not yet clear as to whether the Chief Justice took part in selecting the panel of judges who are to preside over the matter or that the High court had used the newly introduced Judicial case management system to select the panel.
The case management system in one of the new reforms and developments in the administration of justice which aims at curbing incidents of forum shopping that could lead to unfair judgments. Under the system when the case is registered, next available judges are automatically picked by the system and appointed cases as they are registered.
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.