Masisi renews Ian Kirby’s contract
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has renewed Court of Appeal President, Justice Ian Kirby’s contract for an additional three years, after the 74-year-old Kirby assured the President that he still feels he can serve the country, even under him.
Although held in high esteem by the legal fraternity for his astuteness and brilliant judgments, many had expected Masisi to drop Kirby who is perceived with suspicion of being a Khama loyalist and gatekeeper at the court of appeal.
Kirby was widely expected to be a victim of an alleged clean up strategy, the offspring of the former president Ian Khama and Masisi’s feud which has already claimed casualties who were seen to be Khama’s associates, most prominently Isaac Kgosi.
Kirby confirmed this week that president Masisi has renewed his contract late 2018. In 2017, the amendment of the Court of Appeal Bill, 2017 tabled by Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi caused an uproar in parliament when members of the opposition criticized it saying the amendment to increase retirement age was designed to protect Judge President Ian Kirby and ensure that he continued on the bench past the then requirement retirement age of 70 years. The bill prescribed that the tenure of office of a Judge of the CoA be increased from 70 years to 80 years. Kirby is 74 years of age.
Kirby revealed this week that he desires to remain in the judiciary for as long as possible, “I have no plans at present to retire from the Bench,” said Kirby who was appointed to the bench in 2000, where he left in 2003 to become the attorney general until he rejoined the judiciary in 2006.
A source revealed that Kirby assured Masisi that he still feels active and still wants to serve the country even under his leadership.
In 2016 Kirby was among many prominent African public personalities who had offshore accounts managed by now defunct law firm Mossack Fonseca, which was fingered for fronting for “questionable” businesses and personalities. The Panama Papers are a tranche of millions of leaked financial documents detailing a trove of billions sheltered in tax havens and pocketed by political power players around the world. The documents remain an unprecedented investigation that revealed the offshore links of some of the world’s most prominent figures.
Kirby was born in November 1945 in Tristan Da Cunha, South Atlantic in the United States of America and is a naturalised Motswana. He attended High School in Plumtree (Zimbabwe then Rhodesia) before studying Law at Rhodes University between 1964 and 1968. He was admitted as advocate of the High Court and appointed state counsel at Attorney General’s Chambers in Lobatse a year later. He has worked for government in many different capacities. Between 1971 and 1990, Kirby was self-employed as a private practitioner. He was a senior partner in IS Kirby Attorneys-at-Law; Kirby Helfer and Khama; Kirby Helfer and Collins as well as IS Kirby Legal and Taxation Consultants. He is the founder of Collins Newman. He was deputy Attorney General (Civil) between 1990 and 2000 before he was appointed a judge of the High Court between 2000-2003. He later joined the government as Attorney General between 2003 and 2005. He went back to the High Court bench in 2006. He was appointed to the court of appeal president in 2010 where he still serves.