Saturday, July 31, 2021

Judicial appointments anger Law Society

The Law Society of Botswana (LSB) has reacted angrily to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)’s decision to appoint judicial officers in a manner that is devoid of transparency. 

The Telegraph has learnt that the LSB’s concerns were triggered by the JSC’s recent decision to promote junior Magistrates ‘secretly’ and behind their backs in what some insiders fear could compromise delivery of justice. 

There are also fears that some staff members are likely to be unduly promoted in return for sexual favours to their supervisors.

Sources in the legal fraternity also revealed that the latest procedure by the JSC in which Regional Magistrates are required to submit a dossier on the junior magistrates for purposes of promotion could be used as a tool to harass or settle personal scores and could brew damage to the Administration of Justice’s reputation if not handled properly. 

Acting Registrar of the High Court J Dube who is also the JSC Acting secretary has already informed Regional Magistrates through a confidential savingram that the Judicial Service Commission would be considering promotions for vacant magisterial positions at its sitting scheduled for June 2021. 

The positions are for Principal magistrate, Senior Magistrate, Magistrate Grade I, Magistrate Grade II/III.

Recently, the LSB Chairperson Tshekiso Tshekiso told this reporter that he was not aware of the savinggram from the JSC secretariat but promised to look into the issue. 

In a statement this week, the LSB stated that given the position of the JSC, the Society has decided that it will not participate in any appointment of judicial officers where the bare minimum of transparency has been adhered to; vacancies must be advertised, the JSC (not some within it) should consider all applicants and shortlist for interviews. 

“The Society condemns processes that encourage matters that are not in incongruence with the independence of the judiciary,” the LSB stated. 

In the savingram, Dube informed Regional Magistrates that “You are requested to submit confidential reports for all eligible Magistrates. The confidential reports are required from the supervisors of eligible magistrates. Confidential overview report is also required for each eligible Magistrate from the Regional magistrate,” said Dube.

According to Dube, the “format of the confidential report should speak to: an analysis of the candidate’s character and level of maturity, professionalism, time keeping, leadership qualities, work ethic, assessment of their court performance, and execution of their duties.” 

Dube also instructed Regional Magistrates to “attach to the reports, data on their caseload in so far as it includes registered, concluded, pending cases as well statistics on rulings and judgements as well as their performance reviews (PDP’s) for the 2019/2020 and 2020/21 financial year.” 

Dube also added that, “it will also be necessary to provide confidential reports of qualifying Magistrates who will be considered for ascension into the posts of those who will be elevated in the positions listed above at paragraph 1 as the Manages trial promotions to create a domino effect.”

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