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Nasha case cost P2.5 million

High Court ruled against AG, CoA dismissed appeal

The Attorney General and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the Parliament standing orders recently are to pay private attorneys close to P2.5 million in legal costs.

The costs are for the attorneys who took part in the case including, Dick Bayford, Salbarny, Busang Manewe, Busang Dutch Leburu and Martin Letsweletse Dingake among others who represented the two Opposition parties in Parliament – the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the matter.

The costs were accumulated during a week- long High Court and Court of Appeal cases. Duma Boko, the President of the UDC joined the legal minds at the Court of Appeal, a development that has also contributed to the costing of the bill.

Although the Attorney General was the initial plaintiff in the High Court matter and cited the UDC, BCP and the BDP as respondents, the BDP later decided to join forces with Attorney General.

In fact the BDP filed an appeal case against the High Court judgment after the Attorney General lost the High Court case with costs.

At the time of going to print the lawyers were yet to tender the invoices to both the BDP and the AG. But an informed scrutiny of the process of calculating the bill reveals that the money that will be paid to all the lawyers is estimated in the region of P2.5 million.

The two teams of lawyers from the two opposition parties will calculate the bill according to two of their most experienced team members during the legal proceedings. Bayford and Boko were the two most experienced lawyers from the UDC side, with the former boasting a career spanning almost 25 years while the former has been practicing for close to 21 years.

From the BCP camp, Dutch Leburu should be the most experienced with about 20 years’ experience and Busang Manewe has been practicing for close to 16 years. Experience in law practice plays a critical role when calculating legal costs. This has contributed to the huge bill. The number of lawyers involved in both camps will also contribute to the costing, Bayford’s team had about six attorneys while Leburu’s team comprised of four lawyers.

The fact that the lawyers worked during odd hours and days could have also contributed to the large bill facing Attorney General’s Chambers and the BDP. The matter was argued within a week and lawyers had to work over night and during weekends to prepare for the case, especially the Court of Appeal case which was heard on Sunday.

“The lawyers compressed time to deliver quality arguments before the judges, this is likely what also pushed up the bill,” said a Gaborone based attorney.  It follows that there was a lot of quality and quantity in the heads of arguments hence the case will attract huge costs.

The court case was about whether or not the Parliament has to elect and endorse the Vice President, Speaker and deputy Speaker of Parliament through secret ballot as provided for by the existing standing orders.

However the President Lt Gen Ian Khama wanted the house to vote by show of hand vis-à-vis secret ballot.

The BDP which is still recovering from the expensive campaigns of last month’s general elections, pushed the matter to court after the former Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Margaret Nasha refused to suspend the standing orders as requested by her party.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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