Friday, March 31, 2023

BOFEPUSU slams Nthomiwa’s appointment as judge

The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions has strongly criticized the appointment of Godfrey Nthomiwa as High Court judge. Nthomiwa has been labeled as a political ‘deployee’.

The Union says that it has no confidence Nthomiwa will be able to do justice in matters affecting government.

“The reputation of the judiciary has become so soiled that a vacancy at the bench now only attracts very average or mediocre jurists with no pedigree to speak of, and in many instances court administrator,” says BOFEPUSU’s secretary of Education, Daniel Molaodi.

Nthomiwa is the outgoing Registrar and Master of the High Court, a position he has held since 1998. While Registrar, he also worked as secretary of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

He was appointed by the same committee that he has served for over 10 years. Nthomiwa is an experienced lawyer and at some point worked as a Magistrate. He is also a writer and has published books on the media and court procedure, to name but a few of his areas of interest.

However, BOFEPUSU contends that the appointment is a disappointment.

“His appointment is part of a continuous campaign to overlook senior and seasoned private legal practitioners in favour of persons who are deemed politically acceptable to the current regime. We are unable to find any justification as to why a competent ilk of the ability, skill and industry of Sydney Tshepiso Pilane, can be overlooked in favour of many of the mediocre individuals who have recently been appointed,” argues Molaodi.

BOFEPUSU says that the bench is of late packed with hopeless judges who are concerned about earning a salary than delivering justice.

“The current calibre of judges appointed to the bench has brought the judiciary into disrepute. The High Court is now littered with judges who have no passion to do justice; who are either there just to earn a handsome salary or to act as gatekeepers for the executive. Unfortunately, this has severely weakened the administration of justice, particularly its efficacy, because a lot of the judges do not know what they are doing or they simply can’t be bothered to put in an honest day’s work,” says Molaodi.

BOFEPUSU says that the judiciary is now a branch of the executive and some judges are now eager to impress the political leadership.

“The number of pending judgments, with some judges having numerous judgments that have been outstanding for more than 12 months is testimony to a process of appointment that promotes cronyism at the expense of merit. Cronyism in the appointment of judges has left the JSC unable to take decisive action against those judges who do not take seriously their solemn constitutional duty to dispense justice.

From the statement, BOFEPUSU is not amused by Nthomiwa’s remarks at the Public Accounts Committee while representing the Administration of Justice.

Nthomiwa has cautioned Unions against publicly attacking judges arguing that such a move boarders on contempt of Court.

“As Registrar and Master, we will remember him as a lacklustre character who was always cautious not to upset the establishment,” states the Union.

BOFEPUSU says that it wants members of the public to have a say when the JSC considers candidates for judicial office. It further opines that there is a need to reform appointment to the bench by making the process transparent.

“A lack of transparency has resulted in persons who were facing the prospect of disciplinary action by either the Law Society of Botswana, or by the academic institution in which they were employed in, being appointed to the judiciary. In other words, persons who would not pass the fit and proper test have been appointed to the bench, and will continue to be appointed, because the JSC continues to be secretive in its procedures despite the obvious flaws of such a process,” states Molaodi.

BOFEPUSU has challenged both the Chief Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal, Ian Kirby, as members of the JSC, to introspect on appointments to the bench.


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