Sunday, April 18, 2021

Why did Collins Newman represent government?

The Office of the Attorney General has still to explain what informed the decision to enlist the services of a private law firm to represent government at the Industrial Court.

The Principal Legal Advisor to government, Dr. Atalia Molokomme, had not responded to our written enquiry sent to her office on Wednesday nor returned calls by the time of going to press.

The Industrial Court case between the Directorate of Public Service Management and the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions was outsourced to Parks Tafa and Lawrence Khupe of Collins Newman & Company.

Expectation was that the Attorney General, and not a private law firm, would have been the one representing government. It also follows that, as the principal legal advisor to the government, Molokomme would have advised the government which law firm to engage.

The development has given rise to speculation that government lawyers may have been engaged in the strike action but some argue that if it were the case, Molokomme herself should have been the one representing government.

Collins Newman & Company does not come cheap and it is unclear how much the tax payer is paying the law firm in legal fees at a time when the government is shouting from the rooftops that there is no money to hike civil servants’ salaries and wages.

The government of President Ian Khama has steadfastly refused to accede to the demands of the five public sector unions for a 16 percent pay hike, saying to do so the government must have P2 billion in the national kitty. The unions refused to buy the story, arguing that government expenditure patterns do not depict a state that has gone broke.

Curiously, both Khama’s family and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party are Collins & Newman law firm clients.

The one case that many still remember was when the law firm represented the BDP and its President during a legal tussle with the then Secretary General of the ruling party, Gomolemo Motswaledi, over the powers of the party president ÔÇô a case which Motswaledi lost with costs.

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