FORMER Court of Appeal President, Kananelo Mosito, is set to have his day in court on Tuesday to appeal a Constitutional Court judgement against his reinstatement by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in February this year.
Court of Appeal Assistant Registrar Mosito Rabotsoa confirmed to this publication that a five-man panel of judges will hear Dr Mosito’s appeal on Tuesday.
“I can confirm that we have set down the matter for 23 October 2018 as per the court ruling that the matter should be heard within 20 court days, so we have complied with the order because the case will be heard within 20 court days,” Mr Rabotsoa said.
He however refused to disclose names and nationalities of the five judges who have been appointed to hear the case.
“I can only tell you that Dr Mosito is going to appear before five judges who have been appointed to hear the case but I will not be able to disclose their names and nationalities for security reasons,” Mr Rabotsoa said.
The decision to allocate Dr Mosito’s case for Tuesday follows a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal judge Moses Chinhengo that the case should be set and heard not later than 20 days from the 2nd of October this year. Justice Chinhengo delivered the ruling after the Law Society of Lesotho had petitioned the apex court for an order that the case be set and heard within 14 days.
Dr Mosito, Prime Minister, Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs, Minister of Justice and Correctional Service, Attorney General, His Majesty, Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, Advocates Karabo Mohau, Motiea Tele and Zwelakhe Mda and the Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal were cited as 1st to 11th respondents respectively in the Law Society’s petition.
Justice Mosito was first appointed to the top job by Dr Thabane during his first tenure as Prime Minister in January 2015. He was re-appointed to the same post on 1 August 2017 after Dr Thabane returned to power in the aftermath of the June 2017 snap national elections.
His re-appointment came after he had been forced to resign in the wake of the establishment of a tribunal in 2016 by former Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, to determine his fitness to hold office over allegations that he had evaded paying taxes.
The tribunal had recommended his impeachment, finding that he had indeed failed to honour his tax obligations and that he acted unlawfully in investigating his fellow judges to establish if they had also paid their taxes as he sought information to advance his cause.
On 13 February this year, his re-appointment was declared null and void by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that he “is not a fit and proper person” for the job because he had been impeached by the tribunal.
The February ruling followed a court application by four lawyers, namely, King’s Counsel Motiea Teele, Zwelakhe Mda, Karabo Mohau and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika.
However, Justice Mosito did not take the decision lying down and on 19 February, he and his co-respondents, including Dr Thabane lodged a notice of appeal before the Court of Appeal. In his appeal notice, Justice Mosito argues that the Constitutional Court erred and misdirected itself in finding for the four lawyers.
Among other things, Justice Mosito argues that the Constitutional Court was wrong to conclude that the tribunal had found him unfit to hold office.
He argues that the tribunal’s findings were of no consequence as they were made after he had already resigned from his position as Court of Appeal President on 13 December 2016.
“The first appellant’s (Justice Mosito) resignation became effective as at 16:02 hours on 13 December 2016 and there was no way he could be removed 10 days later after he had resigned from that position,” Justice Mosito argues.
“The court ought to have held that the enquiry had been rendered otiose (serving no practical purpose) by such resignation, thereby rendering the last lap of the attempted impeachment frustrated.”
Justice Mosito further argues that the four lawyers had no right to file their application against his re-appointment “either on behalf of the general public or anyone else”.
But until the 2 October ruling by Justice Chinhengo, it was not clear when the appeal would be heard as the Court of Appeal has been dysfunctional for almost two years owing to the ongoing court battles involving its presidency.