The Judicial Services Commission is refusing to give Justice Key Dingake a three year sabbatical leave to enable him to take up an appointment on the Papua New Guinea bench.
Justice Key Dingake who is racing against time take up a position on the Supreme Court of Papua Guinea has appealed to President Ian Khama to intervene following calls by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that he should resign.
Calls by the JSC that Dingake should resign follow a flurry of letters addressed to the Commission requesting that he be granted a three year unpaid leave.
Dingake is supposed to report for duty at Papua Guinea in the South Pacific, North of Australia on the 1st February this year. There are however fears that Khama who is expected to act on the advice of the JSC may also refuse to grant Dingake alternatively may not be able to make the decision in time because a number of JSC members are on leave.
In a letter dated 12 January and addressed to the Secretary of the JSC, Attorney General Abraham Keetshabe states that following a meeting of the JSC held on 5th December 2017, Dingake was advised in writing that his request for unpaid leave had not been acceded to. Dingake was also informed that he should submit his formal letter of resignation.
“I’m advised that hitherto, Judge Dingake has not submitted his resignation. Meantime he has been writing to his Excellency the President presenting the very same requests that he should be granted unpaid leave,” stated Keitshabe. According to the Attorney General, His Excellency, President has however withheld any response to his request pending receipt of the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.”
“In order to allow the president to conclusively address this matter, I have been under instruction to request the JSC to convene as a matter of urgency for purposes of deliberating on Judge Dingake’s matter and duly submit a recommendation thereof.” said Keetshabe
He added that “In order to allow the president to conclusively address this matter, I have been under instruction to request the JSC to convene as a matter of urgency for purposes of deliberating on Judge Dingake’s matter and duly submit a recommendation thereof.”
Another from Office of the President, dated 15th December, signed on behalf of Permanent Secretary to the President, by Botshabelo Mathuba acknowledged receiving some letters from Judge Dingake.
‘’Please refer to your letter dated 11th and 12th December 2017 and for the record I want to make it clear that President Khama has not decided on your request because he has not received a recommendation from the Judicial Service Commission,” reads part of the letter from Mathuba.
She further advised Dingake that “since you indicated in your letter that they (JSC) had written to you, you advised to respond to their letter to enable them to submit their recommendation to his Excellency the President.”
In a letter dated 22 December 2017 and addressed to Dingake, Acting Registrar and Master of the High Court, Julian A Dube stated that most of the JSC members were on leave.
‘’I have been directed by the Acting Chief Justice Abedneco Tafa to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 21st December 2017 relative to your matter. The Acting Chief Justice advises that the Chairman of the Judicial service Commission and most of the members of the commission are currently on leave,” she said.
Dube stated that the Chairman of the commission will be back on duty on the 18th January 2018 and Dingake’s letter will be placed before him.
Although Dibotelo resumes his duty on Thursday,(18 January 2018) ,Dube made it clear that the next Statutory meeting of the JSC is scheduled for 12 February 2018 and Judge Dingake is scheduled to resume his duties on the 1st February 2018.
This prompted Dingake to take up the matter further with Khama’s office, hence Keetsabe’s letter directing that the JSC must “convene as a matter of urgency for purposes of deliberating on Judge Dingake’s matter and to duly submit a recommendation thereof.”
Contacted for a comment, Acting Registrar and Master of the High Court, Takura Charumbira “The question of whether Justice Dingake has applied for a three year sabbatical leave and leaving the (Administration of Justice) AoJ is a matter between employer and employee. Only the employee can disclose that information and not the employer.”