PROMINENT lawyer and former interim Prime Minister, Haae Phoofolo, has been appointed the new Attorney General with effect from 8 February this year.
Part of the appointment letter signed by Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, states that, “I am directed to inform you that pursuant to Section 140 (1) of the Constitutional of Lesotho, His Majesty the King acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister has decided to appoint you as Attorney General”.
Mr Mphaka further informed Advocate Phoofolo KC that he will be furnished with the contract of employment in due course and that his terms of engagement were in accordance with the Statutory Salaries Regulations that were currently in force.
However, the opposition has criticised Adv Phoofolo’s appointment arguing that he was in seventies and way beyond the retirement age of 55 years. The social media was also abuzz with attacks on government’s decision to engage an older person to fill-in the position of AG.
In 2014, former Attorney General, Tšokolo Makhethe, was ousted from office by Dr Thabane during his first tenure for having exceeded the age of 55 years.
He only resumed his duties in 2015 after Dr Thabane’s first coalition government collapsed and his tenure eventually ended in August 2017.
Speaking to the Sunday Express yesterday, the Press Attaché in the Prime Minister’s Office, Thabo Thakalekoala defended Adv Phoofolo’s appointment, saying the new AG’s age had nothing to do with his position.
“The issue of age is of no substance as long as the honourable Prime Minister is satisfied that the person eligible to become His Majesty’s legal advisor is of sound mind, able to perform duties assigned to them. Adv Phoofolo fits this description.
“Secondly, on the issue where they are saying he is not a civil servant, the law clearly states that the government can appoint a non-civil servant to any position on contractual basis and Ntate Phoofolo is not an exception,” Mr Thakalekoala said.
He said there were many people employed by the government under a similar contractual arrangement and Advocate Phoofolo was given a three-year contract based on the constitution.
“The previous government administration absorbed people who were already on pension into the system and gave them jobs on contractual basis. We are therefore asking them to stop confusing and misleading the nation by pretending to show surprise at Advocate Phoofolo’s appointment. This is not peculiar, the government has not violated any law in their appointment of the new AG,” Mr Thakalekoala said.
Adv Phoofolo KC served as interim Prime Minister of Lesotho from 17 August 1994 to 14 September 1994. He received a joint law degree from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (BOLESWA) and the University of Edinburg in Scotland in 1974. He later obtained a MSc. degree in banking and money management from Adelphi University, New York in 1977.
In 1974, he was admitted to the Lesotho bar and served as an attorney, conveyancer and notary public in the High Court and Court of Appeal in 1978. He began his public career as legal advisor to the Lesotho National Development Bank.
Three years later, he was appointed commissioner of financial institutions in the Ministry of Finance. In 1981, he participated in the creation of the Lesotho Central Bank and was appointed deputy governor in 1983. Between 1986 and 2012, he worked as an attorney and served as a consultant and gained a reputation as a human rights advocate.
In 2012, he was appointed Minister of Justice, Human Rights, Correctional Service and Law and Constitutional Affairs.