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LSB fears conflict of interest in Judge Appointment case

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.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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