Monday, September 25, 2023

Disagreement within Law Society over Motumise case

Some (mostly senior) lawyers are said to be greatly displeased with the Council of the Law Society of Botswana’s decision to sue the government over the appointment of High Court judges. The Society is structured in the following manner: there is the general membership and from it is elected a Council that is made up of seven members. The current chairman of the Council is Lawrence Lecha.



In the matter in question, LSB is suing President Ian Khama for rejecting the Judicial Services Commission recommendation that attorney Omphemetse Motumise should be appointed High Court judge. Khama disregarded that recommendation, prompting the LSB to launch a legal challenge that will be heard by a panel of three judges: Justices Abednico Tafa, Singh Walia and Phadi Solomon. LSB and Motumise are the applicants while Khama, JSC and the Attorney General are cited in that order as respondents. The applicants want the court to set aside Khama’s decision not to appoint Motumise.



The major concern of the concerned group is that LSB members were not consulted when the decision to institute legal action was taken and that should the Society lose the case, they would have to pay costs for legal action that they were never consulted about. Conversely, Lecha says that the decision to litigate a matter of this nature was taken a long time ago ÔÇô long before he even became the chairman.



It turns out that at this point the concerned group is only waging a limited campaign that has not been formally presented to the Council. In the circumstances, Lecha’s suggestion is that the group should officialise its grievances.



“They should come forward and make their case,” he says.



Alerted to the fact that the concerned group is largely made up of senior lawyers, he retorts with “those are the worst” in terms of attending LSB meetings.



“Few of them have the Law Society’s interests at heart. They don’t attend our meetings and I wish to encourage them to do so,” Lecha says.



The latter assertion is confirmed by another lawyer who adds that even among lawyers who think that prospects for success in the Motumise case are dim, there is no denial that the Council has been mandated to litigate the matter. Apparently, there has (for some time now) been dissension in the ranks. One explanation tendered for senior lawyers not attending LSB meetings is that some among the younger generation of lawyer “insult” them.



“Ba a rogiwa,” says a lawyer source.



Furthermore, there is said to be a feeling among the senior lawyers that the Society has been politicised beyond a point where is it is impossible to conduct the affairs of the Society in a non-partisan manner.


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