The Botswana Congress Party has echoed the medley of voices expressing disquiet over recent appointments where President Ian Khama has ignored the advice of the Judicial Service Commission in selecting judges.
A BCP statement released to the media spoke of the party’s “deep concern that ever since President Ian Khama assumed the presidency of the country, judicial appointments have been rocked with controversy”.
Specifically, the BCP took a swipe at Khama’s refusal to appoint Lizo Ngcongco, Gabriel Rwelengera and Gabriel Komboni, three lawyers whom the JSC had deemed “duly qualified”.
The statement said while there was no duty on Khama to have offered reasons for his decision, “it is imperative that he should have done so because what he did was unprecedented”. This is especially so since the JSC is mandated by the constitution to advise the president on who to appoint to the bench.
At the same time, the party noted its concern with the JSC itself for a controversial appointment procedure where it recommended more names to Khama than the number of vacancies for judges. “Thereafter the president would cherry pick from the pool who to appoint as a judge,” read the statement.
Pointing to the Law Society of Botswana’s rejection of this method of appointment, BCP termed the appointments “a clear case of abuse of executive powers”, adding its concern for upholding the credibility and independence of the judiciary.
Further, it raised the issue of previous calls for a constitutional review that would clip executive excesses.