Justice Oagile Key Dingake last week successfully requested to and met President Ian Khama over his resignation where they apparently discussed a variety of issues relating to the judiciary and ‘other private matters’.
The president’s Private Secretary Brigadier George Tlhalerwa confirmed the meeting but declined to go into details. Dingake (53) who was due to return to his duty station by January 2018 following his controversial suspension with other judges- resigned to take up a post as judge following his appointment by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to the Supreme and National Courts of Papua New Guinea, a country just north of Australia.
In his heart to heart conversation with Khama, sources say Dingake informed Khama about his resignation and next move.
“The president expressed his appreciation to his dedication and commitment as well as the advancements so far achieved to the country’s judiciary. He further expressed his hope that Dingake will continue to fly the national flag high wherever he is going. The two also buried the hatchet owing to recent ugly brawls,” a highly placed source said.
In 2014, Dingake was approached to become the Chief Justice of the Gambia following a UN search and would only accept the offer if he was sent on secondment by his government but when that did not materialise, the deal fell through.
Khama and Dingake have not been the best of friends owing to the latter’s non-conformist ideals which are a direct opposite to Khama’s-who is widely believed to be marshalling the ascendency of an executive-minded bench.
Dingake is believed to be an unhappy man whose patience has been stretched beyond the limit on several occasions including the denial to serve in the Court of Appeal. Sometime back, it emerged that the Lesotho Court of Appeal expressed interest in Dingake’s services and approached Chief Justice Dibotelo to establish if he was available. Dibotelo is reported to have informed the Lesotho Court of Appeal that he had to take up the matter with President Khama first for consideration.The arrangement proposed by Lesotho Court of Appeal was that Dingake would sit from time to time as may be required by the Court President, but this too did not materialize.
Due to his extensive experience, in 2013, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon appointed Dingake to the roster of judges of the Residual Special Court of Sierra Leone. This was is not a full time assignment as he sits from time to time as required by the Court.
Dingake has taught law, practised as an attorney and had stint as a corporate lawyer before joining the Industrial Court in 2002. He migrated to the High Court in 2005 where he leaves after 12 years of service. In between he has travelled all over the world presenting scholarly papers.
Departure opens vacancy and dilemma for judiciary?
Dingake whose new contract expires after three years did not want to be drawn into the matter and just like the presidency chose not to respond or shed any light into the meeting. His exit opens one more post in the highly contested judiciary positions.
Currently, there is the looming dilemma of the expiry of short term contracts in December of Justices Kabelo, Boipuso Tshweneyagae and Jennifer Dube who were appointed in place of suspended four judges. This is while a decision is also yet to be made about the appointment of senior lawyers Omphemetse Motumise and Gabriel Komboni, with the letter having written the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) expressing interest in posts they were invited by President Ian Khama.