Thursday, June 13, 2024

Ministers Molao, Morwaeng face JSC probe

State President Minister Kabo Morwaeng and Minister of Agriculture Fidelis Molao are facing investigations by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over their alleged interference in the judiciary. Also facing a probe by the JSC is Lobatse High Court Judge, Justice Michael Motlhabi. According to a letter by the Botswana Parotic Front (BPF) addressed to the JSC and copied to the Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane, “The complaint is against the following; Honourable Justice Motlhabi of the Lobatse High Court, Minister of State Presidency Hon. Kabo Morwaeng, Minister of Agriculture Hon. Fidelis Molao.”

BPF President, Reggie Reatile states in the letter that “Our complaint emanates from the case in which the BPF was involved in litigation before Motlhabi and the one before Kebonang J.”  “We articulate the basis of our complaint hereunder; in the matter before Motlhabi J, in case No. UAHGB-000104/23, we learnt of the Rule Nisi that was subsequently issued Motlhabi J. on the same day in a WhatsApp group from a message from Hon. Kabo Morwaeng, from his number…in WhatsApp group called 12th Parliament, a group comprising of Member of Parliament. Hon. Kabo Morwaeng posted the Court order in the 12th Parliament Whatsapp group even before the Order was read out in Court by Motlhabi J,” said Reatile. 

According to the letter; “It is clear that Motlhabi J’s Order was leaked to Hon. Kabo Morwaeng even before the parties before Court could have sight of it” adding that “It cannot be correct as litigants, we see Court Oders from Politicians such as Hon. Kabo Morwaeng even before such Orders are pronounced in Court.” “In our considered view, the Court Order was deliberately leaked from Justice Motlhabi’s office. We are cautious not to draw any inference from this strange occurrence and the involvement of Hon. Motlhabi hence we invite your good office to investigate this matter to the fullest extent possible,” the letter states.

The letter further stated that: “It cannot be right for Hon. Morwaeng, a member of Cabinet, to be aware of a Court Order of a judge before us, when we were waiting in Court for the Judge to pronounce his ruling” adding that “We are of the view that a prima facie case for misconduct against Motlhabi J and Hon Morwaeng exist warranting a formal investigation.” The letter indicates that “Our Members of Parliament are members of the 12th Parliament WhatsApp group and has sight of the message from Hon. Kabo Morwaeng.”

Reatile further indicates that “On yet another matter involving the BPF or its members, in Case no. UAHGB -000199/23, we have learnt with shock that Honourable Minister Fidelis Molao has publicly stated that in the event that Justice Kebonang ruled against Mr. Biggie Ganda Butale, they, as the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will ensure that the matter is appealed to the Court of Appeal,’ where there are more favourable judges’ who will preside over the appeal and overturn the judgment of Kebonang J.” “This shocking statement by Hon. Molao was made in the presence of other members of Parliament including a BPF MP,” said Re Reatile said: “Honourable Chief Justice, the judiciary is the last line of defense in our constitutional democracy and it must be protected from political interference” adding that “It is disturbing that a member of Cabinet can label some judges of the Court of Appeal as “more favourable” and bodily state that Mr. Butale’s appeal will succeed before the Court of Appeal.”

“As the BPF, we plead with your office to investigate these serious allegations of political interference in the judiciary. Nothing short of a formal investigation will suffice,” said Reatile.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper