- Chief Justice ‘dilutes’ judge picked by system
- BCP lawyer wants single judge and not panel
- Suspicion as CJ picks F-Town Judge for Gabs matter
Even before the case in which the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) challenges the legitimacy of Mogweetsi Masisi’s presidency could begin, the BCP lawyer Martin Dingake has taken Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo to task, questioning his powers to appoint his preferred judges to preside over the landmark case.
In a letter hand-delivered to the Chief Justice yesterday (Monday), Dingake informs Chief Justice Dibotelo that they have received information that the case will be heard by a panel of three (3) judges being Justices Tshepho Motswagole, Tebogo Tau and Barnabas Nyamadzabo.
‘‘We know that when our application was issued out of court, the Registrar had prepared a cover endorsed with reference to Justice Motswagole as the judge to hear the matter. We do not know who would have endorsed Justices Tau and Nyamadzabo, if such cover had been prepared and endorsed. We write to express our deep concern with this and find the composition illegal and not sanctioned by law,’’ Dingake wrote to the Chief Justice.
He also argued that the only person with the power to issue out court processes and prepare a cover endorsed with reference to the judge is the Registrar in terms of Order 3 (1) of the Rules of the High Court. The youthful lawyer questioned the Chief Justice’s wisdom in allocating the case to a panel as opposed to a single judge. ‘‘In terms of Section 6 of the High Court Act Cap 04:02 of the Laws of Botswana, a single judge shall hear and dispose a matter’’, Dingake wrote.
While conceding that a panel may hear and dispose of the case if the Chief Justice has determined the need to do so, Dingake cautioned that Section 6 of the Act compels the Chief Justice to record such a decision and provide a basis for it and communicate it to the parties.
Through his letter which was copied to the Attorney General, the BCP lawyer demands among others, a record, if any, of the system that was used in choosing the other judges to join Justice Motswagole. Dingake wants the Chief Justice to provide a record of the decision and the basis thereof, if any, as to the number of judges who will hear the case. He also wants an explanation on who made the decision to empanel the bench, whether they are the most senior and whether they are most qualified. Dingake has also demanded an explanation on how the Lobatse/Gaborone system would have picked a judge based in Francistown when in other matters filed either in Lobatse or Gaborone this has never happened. Justice Nyamadzabo is based in Francistown.
The BCP lawyer has given the Chief Justice until end of business Monday, 23rd April to have provided the requested information. He has warned that his law firm, Dingake Law Partners, holds instructions from their client (BCP) to launch interlocutory proceedings reviewing decision to empanel the bench.