The Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi seeks to amend the Court of Appeal Act so that it turns a blind eye to the unconstitutional appointments of Justice Isaac Lesetedi, Monametsi Gaongalelwe, John Foxcroft, John Cameroon, Authur Hamilton and Craig Howie.
This comes after High Court Judge; Abednico Tafa ruled that the appointment of the six Court of Appeal judges by President Lt gen Ian Khama was unconstitutional.
The Minister of Defence Justice and Security on Friday gazetted a draft of the Court of Appeal (Amendment) Bill, 2017 which he said sought to comply with Justice Tafa’s judgement.
In his judgement delivered on 16th February 2017, Justice Tafa ruled that the President had no powers to prescribe the number of the court of appeal judges since those powers rested with parliament. This decision invalidated the appointment of all Court of Appeal judges.
Minister Kgathi however wants the proposed amended Act to ignore the mistake and let bygones be bygones.
The proposed amendment reads: “” The appointment of Justices of Appeal by the President before the coming into of this Act shall be deemed to have been validly made notwithstanding that at the time of the appointment the number of Justices of Appeal had not been prescribed by Parliament.
Justice Tafa had also invalidated the appointment of four Court of Appeal judges on the ground that the President had appointed them on more than one fixed term contracts contrary to section 101 (1) of the Constitution. Kgathi’s proposed amendment on the other hand wants the Act to ignore the oversight: “The appointment by the President of any other Justice of Appeal on a fixed term contract before the coming into effect of this Act, shall be deemed to have been validly made notwithstanding that such Justice of Appeal had been appointed on more than one fixed term contract..”
The proposed amendment also seeks to ensure that no proceedings of the Court of Appeal are invalidated by the unconstitutional appointment of the Court of Appeal judges.
The Bill further proposes that the tenure of Office of a judge of the court of Appeal be increased from 70 years to 80 years.