The Minister of Justice Defence and Security announced on BTV during Monday evening news that His Excellency the President has decided to appoint Motumise as a Judge of the High Court. Whilst this has been long coming it is not cause for celebration. It took up to four months for H.E. the President to realise that he is not above the law and that the concept of the Rule of Law requires him to act in accordance with the Judgment of the Court of Appeal. Whether he agrees with it or not is irrelevant. It is of grave concern that the Law Society of Botswana had to resort to issuing a Statutory Notice indicating its intention to make an application to compel the President to act in accordance with the Judgment of the Court of Appeal. The announcement on Monday after the expiry of the thirty-day period of Notice and when the application was ready to be filed shows just how much the President does not believe he is bound by pronouncements of the Courts. Also particularly disturbing and probably more so than others is the disparaging and likely defamatory remarks made by the Minister in relation to Motumise and which he attributed to the President. The Minister announced that the President had after investigation found that Motumise is not fit for duty and is not “suitable” to be appointed to the Bench. No explanation was proffered for this lack of “suitability” or fitness to hold office and he was not given an opportunity to respond. A lawyer’s stock of trade is amongst others his character and integrity. For the Executive in a democratic society to publicly cast aspersions on the character of a legal practitioner who has been recommended to the position of a Judge by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is not only an abuse of public media but scandalous. It is indeed simply unacceptable for any person to be treated in that manner. It is further demeaning on the person of Motumise that he had no prior knowledge of this announcement and has to date not received any document confirming the announcement by the Minister. This sorry episode makes it abundantly clear that the President and some who are like minded do not believe in the Rule of Law and are only to be dragged kicking and screaming to ensure compliance with the law. It also indicates a clear desire to humiliate Motumise in the face of his successful court bid. It is therefore misplaced that the announcement of the impending appointment of Motumise as a High Court Judge should be viewed as an act of magnanimity. The Law Society of Botswana and all Batswana should not celebrate when the Executive does the right thing.
RULE OF LAW AND EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW – THE EXECUTIVE (CABINET)
On a related Rule of Law matter, it is reported in a publication that the newly appointed Attorney General of this Republic (AG), who by the way sat next to the Minister during that toxic statement on Mr. Motumise, has given assurance to the Executive that none of them will be prosecuted whilst he holds office. Such alleged assurance, if ever it was given, would run afoul of all deeply cherished precepts of Rule of Law and equality before the law. Such assurance, which may likely never have been given, would indicate a dearth of propriety that would render the Attorney General not “suitable” to hold the office or indeed “fit” for the duty. Given that prosecutorial power vests in the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and very nominally so with the AG, the Society is comfortable that such sentiments and / or assurances if indeed made would have been made by a person who is unable to make good on the promise. The Law Society of Botswana believes that the AG, being The Leader of the Bar (most senior practitioner) will in good time assure the Bar that such allegations are untrue and commit to ensuring that the Rule of Law is sacrosanct.
The Law Society of Botswana
Gaborone, Botswana on 6th September 2017