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Kudos to the Judiciary

In a world where the independence of the judiciary is fading, we in Botswana can take pride in the knowledge that ours is a robust, independent arm of government that will not be bullied into making bad decisions.

The judgment passed against the Attorney General and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) by the High Court on Friday, and the subsequent confirmation of the same by the Court of Appeal yesterday, will surely go a long way in reinforcing Batswana’s confidence in the judiciary. Such is the case that in a modern constitutional State, such as ours, the principle of an independent Judiciary has its origin in the theory of separation of powers, whereby the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary form three separate branches of government, each completing a system of mutual checks and balances aimed at preventing abuses of power to the detriment of a free society.

Judicial independence means that both the Judiciary as an institution and also the individual judges deciding particular cases must be able to exercise their professional responsibilities without being influenced especially by the Executive, or the Legislature or some other sources.

The last few days have proven beyond doubt that Botswana is not some backward African country whose judges dance to the whims of certain political leaders. We knew, as obviously did the judges where the Attorney General’s case came from, and where the “BDP’s” was birthed. There was Executive pressure. And such pressure would have been made to bear on whoever heard the matter.  Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal were able to render justice impartially on nothing else, but the basis of law. By so doing the courts ensured the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of individual Members of Parliament, and by extension, the nation.

Already there were suggestions the Appeal’s verdict would be in favour of the BDP because “a

certain judge” would ensure its victory. We rejoice as a nation in the fact that no such thing happened, albeit with the said judge being one of the five. All the five judges agreed.  This is what democracy calls for – judges that do not act arbitrarily by deciding cases according to their own personal preferences, or alliances but who recognise the fact that their duty is to apply the law, and will not succumb to pressure of any kind aimed at compromising their ability to do so. We know there was tremendous pressure on the judges to pass judgment in favour of the Attorney General and the “BDP”. Thank you gentlemen for giving Batswana a reason to celebrate their democracy and independence.  Thank you for being sensitive to the issue of time and dispensing justice so expeditiously.

Now that we have dispensed with the improvident matter of the election of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and endorsement of the Vice President by show of hand let the chimes of Parliament ring and let MPs and the Executive, get to the business of developing this great country and its people.

                                                          Today’s thought

“The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have to have an independent judiciary, judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing.”


                                           – Caroline Kennedy






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