Depending on what President Ian Khama ultimately decides, there is a possibility of the country having a new Attorney General on May 1.
The contract of the incumbent, Dr. Athaliah Molokomme, ends at the end of April and Sunday Standard learns from good sources that she has been asked to motivate reasons for the renewal of her contract. Normally that doesn’t happen with people their employers intend to keep. Sources say that the powers-that-be were not too happy with Molokomme when, in her speech during the opening of the legal year, she didn’t rebut what the Chairperson of the Law Society of Botswana, Lawrence Lecha, had said about the Court of Appeal not reflecting the racial and gender complexion of Botswana.
Depending on the reasons and the receptiveness of her employer to those reasons, there are two obvious outcomes. If her contract is not renewed, the number of women who hold positions in the executive will dwindle further. In the past, there have been rumours of Molokomme being replaced by Parks Tafa, the president’s personal lawyer who also wields a lot of power in the ruling party. The Office of the President reacted swiftly with a denial.
Two years ago, Molokomme unsuccesfully contested for the presidency of the International Criminal Court Assembly of State Parties. At the time, her office released a statement explaining that the government had identified her as a suitable candidate to represent Botswana at the international body and that she would remain in post while applications were being considered. A month later there was talk that she and Tafa were to be appointed appellate court judges but that never happened.
Molokomme holds three degrees: an LLB from the University of Botswana and Swaziland, a Masters in Law from Yale Law School in the United States and a PhD in Law from Leiden University in the Netherlands. She has taught law at the University of Botswana and was the founding head of the Charter of the Gender Unit at the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community. In June 2003, she was appointed judge of High Court of Botswana, becoming the second woman after Unity Dow (current Minister of Education and Skills Development) to hold such position. From the bench, Molokomme was appointed to her current post, becoming the first female Attorney General.
At least on the basis of what the constitution says, the Attorney General who is the principal legal adviser to the government, has a lot of power. The constitution says that the attorney general shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority. Prior to the appointment of the Parliamentary Counsel, the Attorney General sat in the house, providing legal advice as and when needed.