Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Khama chickens out of Masisi lawsuit

Former President Ian Khama has developed cold feet over his decision to sue President Mokgweetsi Masisi following the latter’s refusal to grant him permission to appoint former spy boss Isaac Kgosi as his Private Secretary.

Khama had through his lawyers, Toteng and Company, already issued a Statutory Notice to the Attorney Generals Chambers (AG) expressing his intention to challenge Masisi’s decision. But his lawyers have since informed Sunday Standard of his decision to put the case on ice.

“The former President has instructed us to put the case on hold,” Boingotlo Toteng told Sunday Standard. He however said they were not privy to the reasons behind Khama’s sudden change of mind.

In their response to the Statutory Notice the Attorney General’s Chambers, representing President Masisi, had expressed his intention to challenge Khama in court. “Please note that we have been instructed to defend the matter should a civil suit be instituted.”  The AG’s response stated that while consideration had been made to Khama’s request to have former Director General of the Directorate Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Kgosi as his Private Secretary, it had been explained to him (Khama) that with Kgosi reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60 on December 15, 2018 it would make more sense to consider another choice.

Masisi, through the AG, also denied that a non-appointment of Kgosi as Private Secretary was improper.

Khama through his lawyers had notified the AG that he had identified Kgosi as a fitting candidate for the vacant position of Private Secretary to his office. That he had duly submitted Kgosi’s curriculum vitae to the Office of the President (OP) and accordingly recommended the immediate appointment of Kgosi. Khama said Kgosi had served the Government of Botswana “with distinction” in a career spanning over forty years.

“Kgosi had recently served in the eminent position of Director General of the Directorate  Intelligence and Security Services, with distinction…serving as he did at the pleasure of the sitting President, in his last position, Col. Kgosi was retired therefrom, upon the assumption of office by His Excellency President Masisi.”

He further argued that the forced retirement was not based on any fault, failure or impropriety on the part of Kgosi and could never, thus, amount to a disqualification from serving in any other capacity for which he qualifies in the public service.

“Kgosi has not yet reached the age of retirement and, at any rate, he would still be appointable to the vacant position on his special capabilities, which include not just his professional competence, but also the fact that Khama has worked with him in various capacities before, and the most notable and of great significance to his recommended appointment , being that he served as Khama’s Private Secretary when Khama was Vice President of Botswana,” reads the Statutory Notice from Khama’s lawyers, Toteng and Company. Khama said apart from the fact that Kgosi will reach retirement age in December this year, there were no other reasons presented by Masisi for the disqualification.

“President Masisi’s decision to refuse the appointment is therefore, unreasonable, irrational and unlawful and liable to be reviewed and set aside, if challenged before the Courts,” Khama said. He further promised that if his demands were not met within 30 days from the date of the service of the Notice he would institute review proceedings and seek, among other things, an order declaring that Masisi’s decision is unreasonable , irrational and unlawful and to have it set aside.

Khama’s Private Secretary Office fell vacant on June 30, 2018 when George Tlhalerwa retired from public service. In an interview with the local media recently Khama attributed Masisi’s refusal to allow Kgosi’s appointment to their (Khama and Masisi) fall out. “When it comes to colonel Kgosi he worked for about 40 years in Government and with distinction. He worked in the army, as my Private Secretary and he then headed up and built up the DISS to what it is today and just like I was being discredited at every opportunity so was he. I suspect that the attempts to discredit him were aimed at me because of his perceived close association with me,” Khama was quoted as having said recently.

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