- Lawyers to boycott this year’s Legal Year ceremony
- LSB says confidence in judicial system has eroded
- Minister says he has only seen the matter on social media
The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) will not participate in this year’s Legal Year ceremony because of concerns about the current state of the judiciary in Botswana.
The LSB decision is seen as reflecting growing apprehension about a potential judicial crisis and erosion of democratic principles in Botswana.
But inspite of this unprecedented development, the Department of Administration of Justice (AoJ) and the Ministry of Justice have not thus far engaged with LSB over its decision.
At the Ministry of Justice, the minister Machana Shamukuni, says he is only aware of the matter from seeing it on social media. “I have only seen it on social media,” he said in an interview.
“These matters are usually addressed to the Chief Justice, and not to my office. At this stage, I have not been briefed regarding anything.”
However, sources say it is unlikely that the matter was not presented when President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his ministers held their first cabinet meeting of this year on 29 January.
“We have a problem”
Said a prominent lawyer who preferred to remain anonymous: “If the matter was not discussed at the cabinet meeting, then we have a problem as a country and should all be concerned.
“This issue exposes how our democracy has eroded and ought to be given the attention it deserves. I do not want to say much but the concerns have been clearly articulated by LSB.”
Members of LSB adopted a motion to boycott this year’s Legal Year ceremony on Monday this week over their frustrations with the AoJ.
In a letter to its members, it outlined a series of concerns, among them failed engagements, unfulfilled commitments, delays in payment of pro deo fees, issuing of default judgements, collapse of the roll system, as well as reports of judicial misconduct like bribery and some judges writing judgements for others.
LSB plans to hold an event parallel to the official Legal Year ceremony on 6 February.