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1966 Constitutional conference minutes stir govt

SHARE   |   Monday, 19 October 2015   |   By Staff Writer
Motumise Motumise

Admission of the 1966 London Bechuanaland Constitutional Conference into court records  in the case in which the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) and attorney Omphemetse Motumise are suing President Ian Khama over the latter's refusal to appoint Motumise as a high court judge has been suspended while the state consults further.
Khama rejected a recommendation by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to appoint Motumise citing national security considerations among other reasons. At the status hearing of the case on Thursday state attorney Charles Gulubane pleaded with court to grant them time to consult their client and senior counsel. He said they also need time to study the papers filed on Wednesday to map the way forward, which the applicant did not oppose. Although Justice Singh Walia-leading a panel of three judges, found the state argument plausible as "the minutes could raises issue of the intention of the framers of the Constitution on the appointment of judges", attorney Tshiamo Rantao-for LSB/ Motumise said they want to file the minutes for completeness of the record but do not plan to make any further reference to the document since they have already cited some sections they are interested in in their founding affidavit.

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He said they delayed in bringing the file before court because they had to source the minutes of the 1966 London Bechuanaland Constitutional Conference from Britain as they are not available anywhere in Botswana (not even at the National Archives). Rantao argues in court papers that the minutes show that the framers of the Constitution literally agreed that the President will only appoint as a formality, and that the actual appointment will be done by the JSC. The parties will re-appear before court on October 26 to confirm 9 November 2015 as the date for arguments.
Meanwhile the three high court judges presiding over the Motumise case have rejected an application by private radio station Gabz FM to cover the proceedings live. The radio station had filed an application to be allowed to broadcast live the proceedings of the Khama vs Motumise lawsuit, but the judges refused arguing that the space within the courtroom is not sufficient to accomodate broadcast media.



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