The Sunday Standard has instructed its attorneys, Bayford and Associates, to raise a counterclaim for defamation against President Lt Gen Ian Khama and to challenge the legitimacy of his presidency.
Bayford and Associates of Friday informed Khama’s lawyers, Collins and Newman that, “in our view, in the event your client institutes the threatened action, he would have tacitly waived the immunity conferred on the President of Botswana by Section 41 of the Constitution”.
They further informed them that in the event President Khama “holds a different view, as an alternative argument, we hold instructions to challenge the legitimacy of his presidency. His ascendancy to power, it will be contended, was not in conformity with Section 35 (4) of the Constitution, which requires that where the office of Presidency is vacant, the National Assembly shall meet to appoint the presidency within 7 days. To the extent that no such meeting took place it is questionable whether your client is entitled to the rights and privileges attaching to the presidency”.
Dick Bayford, who is acting for Sunday Standard, stated that, “the foregoing arguments are apposite in the light of the fact that our client intends to raise a counterclaim for defamation against your client, whose details shall ensue in due course”.
President Khama’s attorneys this week gave Sunday Standard up to Friday to have apologized or face legal action.
Sunday Standard lawyers responded on Friday, stating that “we do not consider the Kalafatis article defamatory, because it does not bear the meaning which you wish to ascribe to it, nor was it ever our client’s intention to make the insinuation alluded to in your letter”.
“It is our client’s view that even if Kalafatis article bore the meaning contended for by yours, it did not in anyway alter public perceptions which have already been shaped by past publications and which the president has done little to erode. These perceptions are that:
“He is nepotistic, corrupt and misuses government resources for personal or family gain. Specifically, that various transactions entered into by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and certain third parties, at the time he was commander, were marred by conflict of interest concerning him.
“As Vice President, he was contemptuous of Parliament, the institution to which he was accountable, by failing to regularly attend its sittings without justifiable cause.
“As Vice President he abused Government property by flying BDF helicopters and other aircraft despite repeated calls from the public and the Ombudsman not to do so.
“Under his presidency, security agents have become emboldened to kill unarmed citizens which incidents have not been subjected to judicial scrutiny of any form;
“He uses the Directorate of Intelligence and Security to spy on citizens because he is paranoid about being displaced as leader of the ruling party.
“He surrounds himself with friends, relatives and sycophants as advisors.