Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Chief Justice Nganunu retires: Or was he pushed?

Chief Justice Julian Mukwesu Nganunu has quit his job as Botswana’s top judicial officer, a few days after reports surfaced that President Seretse Khama Ian Khama had assembled a team of medical experts to ascertain if the judicial officer was fit for duty.

Nganunu, aged 69, quit his job on Monday, a day before the opening of the legal year, after serving as Chief Justice for more than ten years. He has been out of office for some months due to ill health, after suffering from a stroke sometime last year. He was at the time reported to be suffering from a heart related ailment.

His retirement was confirmed by Master and Registrar of the High Court Godfrey Nthomiwa.

Nganunu’s departure comes in the wake of yet another retirement by the Minister of Trade and Industry Baledzi Gaolathe, amid allegations that he was pushed out of office because of ill health.

Nthomiwa, however, maintains that Nganunu’s resignation was a personal choice.

“He retired on his own volition,” Nthomiwa told The Telegraph on Monday. He also revealed that Nganunu was retiring with immediate effect. He will, however, continue to earn 80% of a salary equivalent to that of a serving Chief Justice.

It is not clear whether Nganunu’s retirement marks the end of his legal career, as he has in the past indicated that he would like to serve as a judge of the Court of Appeal as soon as it is localised.

Nthomiwa also said that Nganunu’s retirement does not preclude him from serving in the Court of Appeal, as he can be engaged to serve for at least 3 months in a year. It remains to be seen who among acting Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo and Ian Kirby will replace Nganunu.

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