In what appears to be a worrisome departure from a long held tradition, President Ian Khama is ignoring a Court of Appeal decision to appoint veteran lawyer Omphemetse Motumise despite several legal threats aimed at compelling him to comply-documents passed to the Sunday Standard have revealed.
The legal fraternity insiders are bracing for a peep show into the questionable decision by President Khama not to appoint Motumise a High Court Judge as he intends to approach the courts to compel Khama to appoint him.
Motumise through his lawyers, Rantao Kewagamang Attorneys, wrote to President Khama on 16 May bringing Khama’s attention to the Court of Appeal Judgement which shot down his decision not to appoint Motumise. The 16th May letter had requested Khama to appoint Motumise as judge of the High Court within seven but he did not.
In another letter dated 6th July, Rantao Kewagamang attorneys wrote to President Khama stating that “We note that we have received no reply to our letter. We note further that Mr Motumise has not been appointed as requested by us, and as recommended on or about 24 February 2015 by the Judicial Service Commission.”
The letter further states that “kindly inform us as to whether we may shortly expect Mr Motumise’s appointment and if so when this may be expected.”
Motumise’s lawyers also called on President Khama to explain to them whether subsequent to the judgement of the Court of Appeal he placed any further information or consideration which might be thought to justify not appointing Motumise before the JSC.
They also want to establish whether the JSC has at any stage altered its advice that Khama should not appoint Motumise; if so in what respect that advice was altered and for what reasons and if not why he had not appointed Motumise.
“In the event that we do not hear from you to the contrary within seven days of delivery of this letter our clients will have no option but to conclude that; you have placed no information or considerations before the JSC that justifies not appointing Mr Motumise.”
The lawyers further state that “if we do not hear from you to the contrary within seven days of delivery of this letter our clients will have no option but to conclude that the JSC has not altered its advice that Khama should appoint Motumise and not withstanding this, you do not intend to appoint Motumise.”
“Further in any event, kindly be advised that our Mr Motumise contends that you are under legal obligation to appoint him as judge and that unless he is so appointed, we are instructed to bring court proceedings on the expiry date of this statutory notice for an order; directing you to appoint him a as judge of the High Court within seven days of the Court’s Order, or such other period as the Court may deem fit,” reads the letter.
Setting aside President Khama’s decision not to appoint Motumise in April this year, Court of Judge Isaac Lesetedi noted that “It is apparent that both JSC and the President were not properly advised on the remit and powers of the JSC and those of the President in the implementation of Section 96(2) of the Constitution.”
He added that “The President was not entitled to turn down the recommendation of the JSC as his role was to act in accordance with the JSC. It is the JSC which determines when to fill a vacancy. It initiates the process of filling up a vacancy by issuing advertisements and setting out the minimal qualifications stipulated in the constitution for appointment to that office….In the absence of any explanation by the President therefore, the decision stands to be reviewed and set aside.”