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 Court dismisses lawyer’s application in Mahao case 

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE High Court yesterday dismissed an application by lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, who wanted to appear as an amicus curia (friend of the court) in the matter between the All Basotho Convention’s (ABC) Koro-Koro constituency committee and the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

The Koro-Koro constituency committee is seeking a court order nullifying the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) decisions to disqualify Prof Mahao from contesting the deputy leader’s position at the party’s elective conference next month. The Koro-Koro committee also wants the court to nullify its own suspension by the party’s NEC after it challenged Prof Mahao’s disqualification.

The Koro-Koro constituency nominated Prof Mahao to contest the elections against Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, party chairperson Motlohi Maliehe and the incumbent, Prince Maliehe, who is also Transport Minister.

However, the ABC’s NEC disqualified Prof Mahao on the grounds that he had not “served at the party’s branch and constituency levels for at least 24 and 36 months” respectively as required by the ABC constitution.

The Koro-Koro constituency committee however, insists that Prof Mahao meets the requirements to stand in the elections.

And in his application on Thursday, Adv Molati asked to be admitted as a ‘friend of the court’ adding that his submissions in the ABC case would be in respect of “causes of disputes in political parties in Lesotho which are predominantly influenced by desire for positions of influence”.

Adv Molati had said that his submissions would be on “how such disputes can be prevented in political parties, the fair determination of the rights of those who wish to stand as candidates for political parties, the provisions of the ABC constitution…when there are disputes among party members…”

“I submit that my role would serve to provide additional legal material which may not necessarily be advanced by the parties (Koro-Koro constituency committee and the ABC’s NEC) herein but which shall be of assistance to the court.

He said that the case was of public interest and as such the court “should have the benefit of getting assistance from a counsel who can contribute meaningfully in order to ultimately do justice between the parties”.

However, Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase who presided over the matter, ruled against Adv Molati, saying he had “failed to satisfy the requirements of his application”. The full reasons for the ruling will be given in a writing at a later date.

Adv Molati subsequently told the Sunday Express that “this kind of application is dealt with on the basis of discretion of the court and if the court doesn’t see the need for an amicus curia then there are no hard feelings”.

“This (unsuccessful application) will not dissuade me from making similar applications in future where I think there is a need. The courts encourage legal practitioners to take part in matters of national interest and that is what I was trying to do. I had no vested interest in the ABC case,” Adv. Molati said.

Prof Mahao, Mr Prince Maliehe, Mr Motlohi Maliehe, Dr Majoro, the Executing Working Committee of the ABC, the ABC’s NEC and the ABC are cited as the first to the seventh respondents respectively in the lawsuit filed by the Koro-Koro constituency committee.

The Koro-Koro constituency committee wants the court to “review, correct and/or set aside” the respondents’ decision to disqualify Pro Mahao from the elective conference set for 1 and 2 February 2019.

It wants the respondents to ‘show cause’ why “the decision of the NEC to decline and or cancel the Koro-Koro constituency nomination of Prof Mahao as deputy leader of ABC shall not be declared null and void and of no force or effect”.

The committee also wants the court to nullify its own suspension by the ABC for indiscipline after it convened a press conference to support Prof Mahao.  It further wants the court to nullify clause 5 (e) of the ABC’s own constitution, which states that a member of the party shall automatically forfeit their membership the moment they take the party to court. It argues that the clause contravenes the national constitution which guarantees everyone’s right of access to the courts of law.

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