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Office of the President (OP)
JSC Statement in response to Sunday Standard article
19/05/10

Reference is made to the article that appeared on the first page of the Sunday Standard of 16-22 May 2010, entitled ‘JSC climbs down as Justice Tebbutt joins fight against controversial appointments reforms’.  The article is a sequel to a number of others published in the same newspaper in the past few weeks.

The JSC does not generally engage in a dialogue with the media, or anyone for that matter, on such confidential and weighty constitutional issues.  However, its Chairman, the Honourable Chief Justice, has considered it appropriate to respond in view of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations contained in the said articles. This statement will restrict itself to the claim made about what transpired at its meeting of 11 May 2010, with respect to the procedure for judicial appointments.

The JSC decided, at that meeting, that the procedure it has adopted with respect to making recommendations to His Excellency the President, where more names are sent to the President than the number of vacancies, will stand until varied by the Commission.  Such variation has not occurred and the claim that the JSC has ‘agreed to stay the new system until a meeting where a definite decision is to be taken’ is false and devoid of the truth as well as the statement that ‘the JSC has resolved that pending the finalization of the issue concerning the proper interpretation of Section 96 (2) the JSC will meanwhile revert to the old system of appointment”.  Infact, at its meeting of the 11th May 2010, the JSC confirmed the previous decision that it has discretion to send more than the required names to the President to choose from.

The JSC is a body created by Section 103 of the Botswana Constitution, which is not subject to the directions or control of any other person or authority.  Thus the statement in the article that the Commission has allowed reforms to be ‘sneaked in through the back door and lobbied to JSC members’ implies that the Commission has violated its constitutional mandate.  This is both inaccurate and defamatory of the good name of the Commission.

The Chief Justice wishes to advise that steps will be taken against anyone who makes false allegations about the JSC, or seeks to undermine the integrity of its members.  It should also be noted that the proceedings of the JSC are confidential, and that the Chairperson will not hesitate to take the appropriate action against any person who leaks information about its proceedings without authorization.

Finally, if anyone is of the view that the JSC has done anything unlawful, they are free to follow established lawful procedures to obtain redress, rather than spread false rumours that are likely to mislead the public.

 

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