BOPEU joins calls for Dibotelo to go


The Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has called for Chief Justice (CJ) Maruping Dibotelo’s immediate resignation citing loss of confidence in his ability to run and manage the judiciary.

‘The judiciary is too far important an institution to be left to the whims of a divisive old man…,” charged Union president, Andrew Motsamai, during a media briefing yesterday.

These remarks come after the latest developments in the judiciary, in which Justice Dibotelo handed four High Court judges to the police for allegedly obtaining housing allowances they did not qualify for. 

The public service trade union movement also wanted Justice Dr Kholisani Solo to vacate the judiciary, as they argued he was unfit to serve after allegedly pronouncing allegiance to President Ian Khama. BOPEU labelled him an “executive-minded judge who pledged loyalty not to the Constitution but to the Executive.”

“Justice Dr Solo, who recently pledged his allegiance to the President of the Republic of Botswana, is the epitome of the calibre of a judge that the CJ would like to see at our judiciary,” said Motsamai.

Moreover, BOPEU threatened to escalate the matter to the court as the development has a “very damaging effect on the credibility and functionality of the judiciary now and in the long run.”

“If Dr Solo does not resign by the close of the week we will compel the President, if needs be through court action. To invoke Section 97 of the Constitution and set up a tribunal to enquire into his fitness to continue holding office,” Motsamai stated.

BOPEU is of the view that this matter was blown out of proportion and poorly managed and governed by the CJ in the manner in which the forum shopping ‘debacle’ was approached.

Last year Dibotelo accused some judges and court officials of forum shopping. This led to judges at Lobatse High Court downing tools demanding an apology from CJ who later complied.

“We see poor leadership here, poor management and bad governance on the part of the CJ. The way in which he handled the forum shopping debacle pointed to this.

‘The overpayment of housing allowance was allowed to get out of hand as a result of leadership that was overzealous in seeking to use the issue to settle past disagreements that the judges had with the CJ,” said Motsamai.

He further said every month thousands of public officers receive overpayments, but such cases were never referred to the police for prosecution. For instance, from the period 2010-2012 after secondment to the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions, he continued to receive a scarce skill allowance for more than two years, which was never a police case.

“The anomaly was corrected by entering into an agreement for repayment of same. There were several hundred employees in the public service who continued to receive monthly salaries after they were fired following the 2011 strike, and were never referred to the police for prosecution,” he added.

Therefore, the union maintained that the matter was simply an administrative issue that ought to be dealt with as such. However, Motsamai alleged that the establishment saw an opportunity to purge judges who did not conform to the type of judicial officers that the executive and the Judicial Service Commission prefer in the system.

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