There are fresh calls on Chief Justice, Maruping Dibotelo to amend the Court of Appeal rules so as to align them to those of the High Court. Lawyers believe this will be a final act to curb suspected forum shopping for that perceived “right ruling”.
The pressure is projected specifically by the Law Society of Botswana, which is concerned that Judge President, Ian Kirby is solely responsible for allocating cases to other judges unlike at the High Court where cases are automatically allocated to the next available judge through the central Case Management System.
In fact the Law Society chairperson, Lawrence Lecha has publicly challenged Dibotelo to change the rules of the Court of Appeal if he is to do away with the alleged forum shopping.
“Given the importance of perception and central role of the court of Appeal, the society’s position as stated at this forum last year, is that the practice that obtains in the High Court should apply to the Court of Appeal,” Lecha remarked during the official opening of this year’s legal year in Gaborone.
Last year the Chief Justice expressed displeasure at the worrying practice of forum shopping that was apparently being applied in the High Court and vowed to amend the law to reduce if not eliminate altogether such incidents.
The unpopular remark by Dibotelo led to animosity within the Judiciary but however led to serious engagement on the matter. As part of that discussion allocation of cases at the High court through automated system, case Management System, was promoted as a primary tool that was introduced to avoid forum shopping.
In order to achieve that, Dibotelo amended the rules of the High court to make withdrawal of cases more difficult once allocated to the judge.
He particularly changed the rules through Statutory Instrument number twenty-two of 2014 to provide in particular that a Party cannot register a cause of action at more than one High Court Registry and that a cause once registered may not be withdrawn without leave of the judge to whom it has been allocated.
Although Dibotelo is hopeful that the amendment would go a long way in eliminating the “shameful and dishonourable practice”, the law society is of the view that he had applied double standards as he failed to do the same for the Court of appeal.
“With all those measures having been put in place in a bid to do away with forum shopping, it is of concern that the Court of Appeal allocation of cases is not automated. Quite to the contrary, the rules of the court of Appeal unequivocally provide that the judge President of the Court of Appeal is single-handedly tasked with allocating matters to the Justices of Appeal,” Lecha added.
Lecha made the remarks four days before the Court of Appeal issues judgements for its January session. Among the pending judgments were cases that bother on the country’s constitution including powers of the country’s President who personally appoints the Judge President.
“Perceptions are that judges do favour certain people and if rules are to be amended, there would be no justification for such perceptions,” Lecha stated in a brief interview on the sidelines.
The other concern raised by Lecha is that unlike the appoint of the High Court Judges and Magistrates, the appointment of the Court of Appeal Judges is not advertised and is shrouded in such secrecy that even the society which is represented at the Judicial Service Commission is sometimes faced with considering a candidate without the background of how the application came about.
“Whilst the Society commends the JSC for the improvements in the Approach, it can be hijacked by anyone at anytime for personal benefit. This lack of certainty and other outstanding matters as raised in the society’s position paper continue to be addressed with the JSC,” Lecha explained further.
Such an approach according to Lecha impacts negatively on perceptions of the independence of the court and the image of the country’s judicial system.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.