One of Botswana’s most progressive legal minds, Justice Key Dingake was forced to resign from the Administration of Justice to take up a post in Papua New Guinea because the Judicial Service Commission would not grant him a three year sabbatical leave.
Registrar and Master of the High Court, Michael Motlhabi confirmed this week that the JSC denied Justice Dingake sabbatical leave.
Motlhabi said Dingake has resigned from the Administration of Justice but refused to give reasons for his resignation.
“However, the reasons for his resignation are confidential matters between employer and employee but the latter (Judge Dingake) is at liberty to disclose the reasons if he so wishes.” said Motlhabi
Dingake resumed his duties at the Papua New Guinea bench on the 1st February 2018.
Dingake was at some point tipped as the next Chief Justice of Botswana after Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo retires in April this year.
But some insiders have long dismissed that thought arguing that Dingake the country’s executive was uncomfortable with him because he was not executive minded and even spoke out openly against executive minded judges.
There are even speculations that the recent decision to suspend four High Court Judges was a sleight of hand by the Office of the President and Administration of Justice to get rid of Justice Key Dingake.
Some insiders have revealed that President Ian Khama’s decision to suspend Justice Dingake, Justice Modiri Letsididi, Justice Mercy Garekwe and Justice Ranier Busang after they were accused of undermining Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo and bringing the judiciary into disrepute was part of a large and calculated plan to get rid of Dingake.
A Judicial Service Commission letter dated 6th December 2017 refused Justice Dingake a three year sabbatical leave stating, “unfortunately there is no provision in the constitution or in the Judicial Service Act for the taking of extended periods of sabbatical leave for the purpose of taking up an external post. Your situation will be the same as those of Judges Kirby and judge Ebrahim Casteins, who were both required to resign from the judiciary to take up contracts elsewhere. Others were then appointed on tenure in their places.”
Motlhabi stated in his letter that the JSC had recommended that Justice Dingake should resign.
“The Commission was of the view that in the circumstances, it will be disruptive of your schedule and of the Judicial Case Management process for you to resume duties just for the month of January 2018.You may wish to liaise with me to agree as to how that month should be treated, whether as leave or as post resignation period. Please would you furnish me with your formal letter of resignation.” read a letter from Motlhabi
Sunday standard has observed that from exchange of letters between Dingake and the JSC the word ‘’resign” keeps cropping up although Dingake never in his letter indicated his intention to resign but merely asked for sabbatical leave.