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End of the road for Attorney General, Keetshabe

Attorney General Keetshabe

The tenure of office for the Attorney General (AG), Advocate Abraham Keetshabe will expire around July this year and the subject has hinted that his contract is not renewable, a matter that has sparked public interest on his next move and the succession politics within the Attorney General’s office.

Keetshabe was appointed Attorney General from the 1st of August 2017, and there are concerns that he has not really made a mark for himself as the AG as he was always forced to bow to undue political influence and pressure. In an interview with this publication, Keetshabe confirmed the end of his contract, but when asked about whether he will be hoping for a renewal, he could only say: “there were limits to my contract.” Minister Kagiso Mmusi was not available to shed further light to reports that Keetshabe’s contract is not renewable.

Like many of his peers, sources say Keetshabe was reduced to taking instructions instead of rendering advice as required by law and did not really enjoy his tenure to the fullest.  His office and that of the director of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have endured widespread criticism over pushing some questionable cases to the courts, denting their credibility as ministers and custodians of justice.

“It is not a secret that he connived with the DPP to prosecute some of these ridiculous cases before the courts, many of which are hanging by a thread,” said a highly placed source. The DPP who is under the administrative supervision of the Attorney General is permitted by law to consults the Attorney General on cases considered by the Attorney General to be of national importance.

Another weakness which insiders say could impede Keetshabe’s progress is his deep Christian faith which he throws at everybody. “You will remember how the issue of faith caused problems for the former Chief Justice of South Africa justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. In this profession Christian or religious fanaticism has far-reaching consequences and can be seen as incompetence,” said a close colleague who says Keetshabe is more of a prayer warrior and priest.

Cabinet Ministers for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng and Trade and Investment, Mmusi Kgafela recently warned both DPP and AG to make judicious decisions on matters concerning people’s liberties saying such often impose a lot of avoidable costs on the government and people’s reputations. Yet other observers say it has been difficult to dispense professional advice to the current regime due to the long intrusive and authoritative arm of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) which many of its stakeholders say is a bully.

The Law Society of Botswana spoke to this issue recently at the opening of the legal year, saying the government should tame the DIS against interfering with other agencies functions. The DIS, through its spokesperson, Edward Robert has since responded and claimed that the position of the Law Society may misdirect or misinform the public.

But some say Keetshabe has not stood up to defend his territory when under external attack and interference, “for instance, what was going through his mind when he drafted this controversial Criminal Investigations and Evidence Procedure Bill. What would have been the case had stakeholders not mounted serious protests. This shows that he is someone who does not ready to defend and protect civil liberties and would go at great length to appease his powers,” said another insider.

It is not known what Keetshabe’s next move could be; but some suggest that he may end up in the judiciary whereas some say he may be appointed to head any state institution. Whoever will succeed Keetshabe as the government advisor remains matter of guesswork for many. His second in command is Charles Gulubane who may be hoping for elevation, but it is not always given that the second in command will succeed his predecessor.

KEETSHABE’S PROFILE

Keetshabe, is a practicing lawyer whose professional career began back in 1986 following his completion of legal studies at the University of Botswana and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Upon graduation Advocate Keetshabe joined the Judiciary as a junior magistrate; rising through the ranks to become the first Motswana to be appointed to the position of Chief Magistrate.

In 1996 Advocate Keetshabe left the magistracy on promotion to the position of Deputy Registrar & Master of the High Court, based initially at the Francistown High Court and later transferring to the Lobatse High Court. His main responsibilities then included administrative supervision of the work of magistrates and providing administrative support to both the High Court and Court of Appeal.

In 2004, Advocate Keetshabe joined the Attorney General’s Chambers as the Deputy Attorney General responsible for civil litigation affairs. In this capacity, he successfully represented the Government in a number of landmark cases that now provide legal precedent in this country.
From 2011-16, Advocate Keetshabe served from 2011 to 2016 as the General Counsel in Office of the President. Prior to his appointment as the new Attorney General he served as Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

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Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.

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