Bots court bars union from joining graft case

 

Gaborone – The Lobatse High Court this past week dismissed an application by the Manual Workers Union to be included in court proceedings relating to corruption allegations against the head of the Intelligence Service, Isaac Kgosi.

Dismissing the application, Judge Michael Leburu ruled that “the union’s pathway to be joined is littered with several legal pitfalls and minefields. The union has failed to demonstrate that it has direct and substantial interest in the matter”.

He noted that the union had also failed to show that its participation in the proceedings would help the court to unravel and solve issues on media freedom.

“The said issues raised in this case fall directly within MISA Botswana’s zone of interest and expertise, hence MISA Botswana is a worthy candidate to be joined in these proceedings as a friend of the court,” the judge said.

Leburu said the objectives and mandate of the unions are predominantly labour issues.

“The submissions by the unions to the effect that any order granted will be ineffective if the union is not joined in the proceedings are therefore misplaced. Whether the trade union has in its possession excerpts of such docket does not instil the union with the necessary legal interest to be joined as a co-respondent,” said Leburu.

Leburu explained that unions have submitted that freedom of expression entails the right to receive information, and therefore union members have a right to receive such information from the docket.

“I entirely embrace the submission that freedom of expression entails the right to receive information, in my ruling that does not mean that any recipient of information has the necessary standing to sue or to be joined in these proceedings. It is only those with direct and substantial interest who ought to be joined as co-respondents,” he explained.

The union had argued that it wanted to be joined in the proceedings because the investigations pertaining to the docket from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime against Kgosi have long been concluded. However, the judge granted an application by the Botswana chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Botswana) to be included in the matter in which Kgosi is accused of soliciting a bribe from a businessman who was facing corruption allegations.

Granting MISA permission to be co-respondents in the case, Leburu said the media body has amply demonstrated that the germane issues yearning for determination centres around media freedom, particularly the incongruities and inconsistencies, if any, between Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act and Section 12 of the Constitution of Botswana, dealing with disclosure of confidential information to the public.

“The expertise of MISA Botswana on media freedom will greatly assist the court in resolving the attendant issues. The said issues rose in this case falls directly within MISA Botswana’s zone of interest and expertise; hence MISA Botswana is a worthy candidate to be joined in these proceedings as a friend of the court. The application by MISA to be joined as a friend of the court is therefore granted,” Leburu said.

July 2014
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