The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has learnt with shock and utter indignation through the print media, of allegations that the Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane and Minister of State Kabo Morwaeng sought to interfere with the decisional independence of a judge.
The attempt to influence; threaten; intimidate and even "dangle a carrot" to him, when presiding in the Matsheka case deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
The report that the CJ and the Minister acting in tandem and separately sought to influence Judge Ketlogetswe in the Matsheka case bears the hallmarks of BDP factionalism gone evil. This brazen and direct interference in the decisional independence of a judge has never happened before in our country.
It speaks volumes of the extent to which our country has degenerated. Whilst no person should interfere with the independence of the judiciary under any circumstances, it becomes scary and scandalous in the extreme, if one of such person seeking to bring undue pressure to bear on a judge deciding a matter is a Chief Justice.
The bar is much higher for a Chief Justice. He is supposed to be the epitome of justice, and not to arm twist judges to decide cases in a manner he wants and to be engaged in political mud-smearing antics against a fellow judge.
Judicial independence is the corner stone of a democratic state. When this particular Chief Justice was appointed concerns were raised in some circles that this was nepotism in its most naked form; that the appointment was unmerited as they were many more senior and erudite judges who were overlooked. We are left to wonder: is this pay back time? Those supporting this dying and corrupt system must know that they will be alone when the time to account comes, as it shall.
The corrupt political elites would not be there to offer protection as they will be busy fighting hard to avoid imprisonment. We wish to call upon the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the President to immediately appoint a Tribunal to look into the suitability of the Chief Justice to continue holding office.
In our view Chief Justice Rrannowane in attempting to influence Judge Ketlogetswe as reported, literally crossed the line. He is not fit to continue serving as our Chief Justice. We are further embarrassed by print media reports in which he is reported to have attacked his fellow judge, maligned his reputation and engaged in open and brazen political propaganda suggesting that Judge Ketlogetswe is pushing a political agenda without even an iota of evidence to substantiate his remarks.
When he engages in judge shopping and empaneling of "suitable" judges to preside over select cases, no one has accused him of being a BDP operative. We call upon progressive sections of civil society, trade unions and the Law Society to stand up and protect the independence of the judiciary.
Without the independence of the judiciary we have no country to talk about. Should the JSC or President fail to take the steps demanded above we may be forced to go to court to vindicate the rule of law just as we did with the privatization of Air Botswana and government purchase of a farm in Gantsi, belonging to a BDP activist for Millions of Pula.
Similarly, we condemn in the strongest terms possible the attempt by Minister Morwaeng to influence and intimidate Judge Ketlogetswe. Minister Morwaeng must be immediately arrested for attempting to subvert the cause of justice. He too must be suspended forthwith pending proper investigations.
Since the BDP regime under President Masisi took office our democratic credentials have taken a nose dive, institutions set up to support democracy wantonly dismantled. The Masisi regime has now chosen to dismantle the Judiciary through its carefully chosen deployees. We say not in our name!
Mpho M. Pheko, BCP publicity secretary