On the day he was playing football in a game between Cabinet ministers and Permanent Secretaries at the University of Botswana stadium, President Ian Khama was supposed to appear before a certain Mr Leero, a mediator at the Department of Labour in Gaborone. Khama had been summoned to appear for a mediation hearing in a case brought before the department of Labour by the expelled Ghanzi Principal Magistrate Thabo Malambane. The embattled former magistrate is pleading unfair dismissal after President Khama dismissed him from office on charges of insubordination. This was after Malambane boycotted presiding over cases brought before his court and demanded that the Regional Magistrate furnish him with an explanation as to why a case that was registered before him had been moved to Gaborone without his consent.
In the dismissal letter which was signed by the Permanent Secretary to the President Eric Molale, Malambane was informed that President Khama took into account the explanations he had brought forth and came to the conclusion Malambane’s conduct in refusing to obey a lawful order from the Acting Chief Justice to discharge his judicial functions constituted gross misconduct, which justified summary dismissal. “Consequently, I am directed to inform you that His Excellency has, in exercise of the powers vested in him by section 104 (2) (b) of the Constitution, decided to dismiss you from your position as Principal Magistrate with immediate effect”, Molale wrote in the letter of dismissal. It was after his dismissal that Malambane launched an appeal with the Labour department and cited President Khama as first respondent while the Administration of Justice and the Judicial Service Commission were second and third respondents respectively.
Khama and his co-respondents were first summoned to appear before the mediator on June 3 and while Khama didn’t show up at the initial sitting, the Registrar of the Court had appeared on behalf of the second and third respondents whereupon he objected to the jurisdiction of the mediator. The case was then re-scheduled for June 19 where it was hoped President Khama would honor the summons. On the day, Malambane and the mediator were left staring at each other, with neither Khama nor any representative from the Administration of Justice and Judicial Service Commission nowhere in sight. The mediator was therefore left with no option and issued a certificate under section 8 (11) of the Trade Dispute Act notifying both parties that they can refer the matter to the Industrial Court. As the case was before a mediator as provided for by the Trade Dispute Act, legal representation was not allowed which meant Khama, cited as a party to the dispute, was supposed to appear in person.
Malambane has since confirmed he will be taking the case before the High Court or the Industrial Court and that the president will still be the first respondent. While Khama will have the liberty to legal representation at any of those courts, it remains to be seen if he will put himself in a position of being called as a witness if there is dispute of facts by deposing to an answering affidavit. Being the first respondent, Khama will have to depose to the answering affidavit.