A tribunal appointed by President Ian Khama to inquire into the conduct of the four judges of the High Court has suspended proceedings pending the determination of the court case filed by the quartet.
“Because of the court case on Monday which calls into question the appointment of judges of the tribunal, the judges of the tribunal have agreed to suspend the proceedings pending the determination by the High Court over the application of the current application,” a highly-placed source told Mmegi last night.
On Tuesday, September 22 prior to the tribunal suspension, six newspapers, amongst them Mmegi, and one radio station, entered the fray, instructing their attorneys to request the tribunal to allow them access and live coverage of the proceedings. Given that the tribunal has been suspended, the request by the media have been deferred to a later date.
Legal brains have suggested that the suspension of the tribunal might be a small opportunity for the parties to settle their personal differences. Efforts to reach all the parties in the matter proved futile at press time.
Subsequent to suspending the judges on September 1, acting in accordance with Section 97 of the Constitution of Botswana, Khama appointed the tribunal to inquire into their conduct.
The suspension was on full salary while benefits and the official vehicles were taken away from them.
A retired South African Supreme Court of Appeal judge, Craig Howie, chairs the tribunal. Justices John Foxcroft and Isaac Lesetedi make up the tribunal. The four judges, Key Dingake, Modiri Letsididi, Mercy Garekwe and Ranier Busang, are contending in court papers that Khama exercised his discretion to suspend them in terms of Section 97 of the Constitution in a manner that is proper and lawful.
“We maintain that this is not the case. The President exercised his powers beyond the limit of the law and, as a consequence, his decision to suspend is contrary to the rule of law. Furthermore, there is nothing in the laws of Botswana or the Constitution that denies the judges the opportunity to review the President’s exercise of executive power. Our courts have a duty to fortify and sustain the rule of law,” said Dingake.
The case is scheduled for September 28 before Judge Tebogo Tau at the Lobatse High Court.