Khama rejects Motumise as High Court judge?

Legal eagle: Motumise
Legal eagle: Motumise

President Ian Khama has reportedly rejected the appointment of attorney Omphemetse Motumise to the High Court bench.

It is understood that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had recommended the veteran lawyer to be a High Court judge but Khama has refused to appoint him.

“Motumise is an independent minded attorney and that is why the president as the appointing authority turned down the recommendation of the JSC,” said a highly placed source in the legal profession. Motumise once served as chairperson of the Law Society of Botswana and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) deputy chairperson.

Reached for comment Motumise said he had no idea about the rejection. “I’m completely in the dark. I went for an interview but have not heard from JSC,” he said.

JSC secretary, Michael Motlhabi, could not be reached for comment as his office and mobile phones rang unanswered yesterday.

This is not the first time that Khama has ignored the recommendations of the JSC. A few years ago, he rejected the appointment of advocate Sidney Pilane, a legal adviser to Festus Mogae when he was president of the republic.

Four years ago, the Law Society released a position paper on the appointment of judges, in which it said the JSC was best placed to know the right candidates.

 “It is the reason their advice is sought,” the society said.

“The President should act on that advice. He ‘must’ act on that advice i.e. he has no discretion and the framers of the Constitution did not want the President to have one lest it compromise the separation of his judicial-appointing role from his executive one. If the line becomes blurred, so does the separation of powers,” the society said.

The society added that in the discharge of its mandate to advise the President, the JSC is enjoined to recommend the number of candidates to fill the available positions of judges. The President is not expected to exercise any discretion but act on advice presented by the JSC. It recommended that any departure from this should be challenged in court of law.

Editor's Comment
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