Does not rule out political motives
The Minister of Justice Ronald Shamukuni has responded with utmost disappointment to a decision taken members of the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) to boycott next Tuesday’s official opening of the Legal Year.
Speaking in an interview with The Voice yesterday, Shamukuni said that most of the issues that the LSB are complaining about, are administrative matters that the Administration of Justice could resolve in partnership with LSB.
“It is regrettable that they have resolved to boycott the event. We should embark on constructive engagement to find solutions to these issues, most of which are administrative. Boycotting will not solve anything, and we should be coming closer to one another instead of going parallel ways,” he said admitting that some of the LSB concerns are legitimate and have been outstanding for a while.
However, the minister did not rule out political motivation behind the boycott. “I can’t rule anything out. It’s elections year and this could be politically motivated,” he said. Shamukuni stated that the Judiciary can only function properly if all stakeholders play their role, and sit at the table to find the middle ground.
He said the payment of pro-deo fees needs to be improved to strike a balance between the needs of the society and the interests of legal practitioners, and that can only be achieved if LSB engages the Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane.
Meanwhile, the AOJ spokesperson, Tshepiso Jankome said she was still preparing a detailed response to LSB demands by late Wednesday afternoon.
Among their complaints, the LSB demands a final solution to the late payment of pro-deo fees for attorneys, the problem that has been around since 2022.
The society has also noted that there is shortage of stationery in the courts, no distribution of Court Rolls, and that the AOJ has somersaulted in an agreement to establish a forum for engagement on quarterly basis.
Furthermore, the LSB said that there is too much laziness in the judicial system where some judges hardly complete cases within reasonable time whilst others are enriching themselves through bribes from litigants.
“The AOJ’s indifference on these matters and its failure to seize the moment and take advantage of the goodwill which was expressed at the beginning of 2023 shows that it has no intention of protecting the rule of law and ensuring that our justice system remains honourable, reliable and trustworthy , it is infact a broken promise,” said the statement issued by LSB on Monday.
In the statement, LSB said the complaints have been outstanding for a very long time and proposed to have a parallel event on the same day at LSB Secretariat where the Chairperson, Osego Garebamono will deliver a speech and then allow for members to come up with ideas to map the way forward.