Judiciary bleeding from nepotism

The Executive arm of Government has been engulfed in corruption scandals recently, with allegations going as far as implicating President Ian Khama, Vice President Masisi, and many other senior government officials in various instances.

Now the contagious corruption disease seems to have spread to the Judiciary as well. Newspapers are awash with reports of corruption week in week out.

Fresh damning allegations have emerged within the Judiciary pointing to existence of corruption, favouritism, nepotism rocking judiciary and thereby causing anxiety and instability. Reports are pouring in that appointment of High Court judges to act at Court of Appeal (CoA) is used as a bait to garner loyalty and sideline others in the Judiciary.

This in turn creates nepotism, bootlicking within Judiciary and massive divisions.

There are allegations of unprincipled practice of senior Judges being overlooked and junior Judges picked to act at CoA, some acting frequently, some being paid for acting while others not, others paid large sums of money. The decisions of appointment to act at CoA are arbitrary and meant to benefit those favoured by the system, and sideline those disfavoured by the system.

There are instances where junior Judges are made to act at CoA and the senior Judges overlooked or not considered.

Another element to the issue is that even within are considered to act, there are those who frequent the CoA on acting basis, while their peers have not been accorded even a single opportunity. Available records are there to indicate Judges who frequent the CoA under the acting arrangement. It is also becoming surprising, bringing into question the criteria used, as some Judges who act at CoA were paid for rendering their service while others were not.

The motive behind the arbitrary

appointments to act at CoA is in fact two folds; first being that Judge President of Court of Appeal Ian Kirby prefers people he can direct, control as opposed to those who will project independence of mind and hold their convictions in deciding issues.

The other reason is attributed to the fact that the Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo wants a certain clique to benefit in professional development and those he detests not to have any opportunity for professional development associated with such appointments. Botswana’s Judiciary is not new to crisis. Two years ago, there was an elongated fight between the Chief Justice and some judges, while Judge President Kirby has been in some instances accused of being close to the Executive in particular President Khama.

In calling for transformation within the Judiciary, those interviewed in the legal fraternity agitate for reform of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), independence of Judiciary, professionalism within the judicial arm of government.

With the night descending upon Dibotelo’s tenure, advocacy is for the new Chief Justice to be appointed to bring professionalism, good leadership within the Judiciary with a touch of intellect. There is talk of envy of the attributes of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in neighbouring South Africa who is doing well with his Judiciary. A guiding and known documented procedure ought to be put in place to inform criterion of appointing High Court judges to act at Court of Appeal.

*Molaodi Mmereki is a pseudo name of the author who preferred anonymity.

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