By Calistus Bosaletswe
he Government Manual workers Union has vowed to continue putting President Ian Khama’s executive powers under surveillance to deter him from possible abuse of those powers conferred on him.
This comes immediately on the heels of a triumphant legal tussle that ended with the High Court declaring appointment of Court of Appeal Judges constitutionally invalid.
In a landmark constitutional case before the High Court, Judge Abednico Tafa ruled in favour of the Union which had contended that President Khama had no powers to reappoint Court of Appeal judges after their term comes to an end.
Government Manual Workers Union Labour Secretary, Johnson Motshwarakgole indicated that they will continue putting Khama’s powers under the radar.
Motswarakgole stated that the assertion among the public that Khama wields power that is unchallengeable is far from the truth.
He said that this is not the first case in which the unions went all out to challenge Khama.
“There was a case in which Khama made a pronouncement about the salary increment at a kgotla. We challenged him because there was a structure in place such as the Bargaining Council which was responsible for negotiating public salary increment. We won that case,” said Motshwarakgole.
He further emphasized that there are a number of parliamentary statues that Khama seems to rely on that contradict the Constitution.
He indicated that they have been careful when challenging him as there was a popular belief that no one can take Khama to court .
“We have done that as trade unions,”added Motshwarakgole.
He stated that they contended that Khama had no powers to re-appoint the judges after their retirement .
Motshwarakgole further noted that they protested Khama’s appointment of CoA judges since it was used to favour a number of foreign judges who have retired to their home countries. Motswarakgole agrees with the judgment outcome which emphasized that parliament should prescribe the number of CoA judges.
He said that they moved to challenge Khama since the CoA judges were foreigners while there are Batswana who qualify to sit at the CoA.
The judgment has resulted in CoA President Ian Kirby suspending the court of appeal session which was to resume last week Friday . Kirby indicated that the session will be suspended until the conundrum relating to the case is unraveled.
This week the Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko indicated that he will move an urgent motion seeking parliament to address Constitutional crisis that came as result of parliament failure to prescribe the number of judges of Court of Appeal .
Boko’s comments comes after High Court Judge Abednico Tafa stated in his judgment that the President had no powers to reappoint Court of Appeal judges after their terms end.
Boko stated that his motion intends to further ask parliament to prescribe how many judges should be appointed and also calls for all judges to be citizens of Botswana.
Boko also indicated that the motion also seeks to call for a transparent appointment process involving the advertisement of vacancies at the court of appeal as well as public hearings in respect of all shortlisted candidates.
However, Attorney Martin Dingake of Dingake Law partners argues that the suspension of the Court of Appeal session on the basis of the judgment is shocking.
Dingake maintained that it has been a norm that High Court judges are appointed to sit at the Court of Appeal .
He said that High Court judges who are Court of Appeal Ex-Officio can sit at the court of appeal. Dingake was surprised that Kirby who has been appointing High Court judges at the Court of Aappeal has made a u-turn after the judgment .