Advocate Peter Collins this week dragged the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) before the Gaborone Magistrate Court demanding payment for a legal opinion tendered, which suggested that President Ian Khama does not have the powers he is claiming under the BDP constitution.
Collins, along with another advocate, Sidney Pilane, gave legal opinions that invalidated Khama’s unilateral appointments. The opinions were sought by the party’s ‘exiled’ former secretary general Gomolemo Motswaledi.
In an application launched mid this week, Kamushinda Kaluzi Attorneys, representing Collins, want the BDP to pay up the fees for the legal opinion which is billed at P18.755.
The lawyers further want the party to pay for the costs of the case. Collins says he was forced to register the case because he had pleaded with the party to pay up on more than one occasion.
The case is scheduled to be heard on December 10th. So far the BDP has indicated that it will not foot the bill, arguing that Motswaledi had no authority to seek the opinion. The party has even gone to the extent of telling Collins to forward his bill to Motswaledi.
Attached to Collins’s application is the legal opinion, his fee note as well as some correspondence between him and the party secretariat. Collins says that the party’s executive secretary had told him through a telephone conversation that the party central committee had taken a resolution that it was not paying for the legal opinion and instead passed the debt to Motswaledi.
However Collins says he wants extracts from the minutes of the party central committee on the decision that the BDP will not foot the bill for the opinion.
“My client for purposes of the instruction was the party and no-one else,” reads part of a letter from Collins to the BDP.
“If the party is experiencing internal difficulties relating to its office bearers, that is not the business of third parties with whom it contracts,” says Collins. He contends that he was contacted in writing through a letter bearing a BDP letterhead and signed off by a party official. He says that if anything the party has to settle the debt and seek ‘appropriate internal recourse’.
“I do assure you that I am urging this course upon you in the interest of the BDP for whom I acted generally for many years before passing on the mantle to those who succeeded me in the firm which still bears my name,” reads part of a letter filed with the application.
At his disciplinary hearing, Motswaledi, prior to his banishment, told the party’s disciplinary body that Khama was not against soliciting legal opinions for the interpretation of the party constitution with regards to his powers.
He said that the decision to solicit legal opinion was taken at a meeting between himself, Khama and the party’s chairman Daniel Kwelagobe.
Contacted for comment on the suit against the party, the BDP’s executive secretary Dr Batlang Serema could not confirm or deny the court case and instead referred all of SundayStandard inquiries to the party’s lawyer Parks Tafa.
“Anything that has to do with legal issues I refer to our lawyers,” said Serema.
However, efforts to contact Tafa proved futile as by the time of going to press he was unavailable for comment.