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Court throws out LWP faction’s case

Tefo Tefo

 MASERU — An attempt by a Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) faction to elbow out party leader Macaefa Billy has failed after the High Court ruled against the group.

The faction, led by former LWP deputy leader ‘Matšepo Lehlokoana, had approached the court seeking an order to strip Billy of his position as leader of the labour-backed party.

In the court papers, Lehlokoana and her allies said Billy should not hold the position because they had expelled him from the party in 2004.

Lehlokoana had told the court that Billy was dismissed from the LWP in 2004 for allegedly breaching the party’s constitution. She also alleged that Billy had misused the party’s funds.

But the High Court on Friday dismissed Lehlokoana’s case.

High Court judge ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane said Lehlokoana’s faction had no legal capacity to sue on behalf of the party.

“Though the court may have jurisdiction to entertain this action, but because plaintiffs have been found to be lacking locus standi to have brought this action the action remains to be dismissed,” Justice Hlajoane said.

Billy had testified in court that he was the bona-fide president of the LWP in terms of the party’s constitution of 2001 which was amended in 2004.

The amended version of the constitution says Billy is the LWP leader.

The judge said she relied, in part, on the 2004 constitution which said Lehlokoana and allies were not members of the LWP’s executive committee.

“According to the 2004 constitution none of the people who testified for the plaintiffs is a member of Lesotho Workers Party’s executive committee,” Hlajoane said.

Hlajoane said Lehlokoana and her allies failed to convince the court that they had the right to sue on behalf of the party.

“Plaintiffs sought to establish their locus standi by handing in the 2001 constitution as the only one in force,” the judge said.

“They further argued that defendant was no longer a member of LWP as he was dismissed from the party in 2004.

“Besides their saying so, nothing was handed in as proof of what they alleged.

“They sought to produce letters which could not be admitted as handed in by people who did not author such documents.”

Justice Hlajoane also dismissed Lehlokoana’s embarrassing claim that she was not aware that the LWP was represented in parliament.

“’Matšepo Lehlokoana . . . who claimed to be the incumbent president of the party showed that she was not aware that LWP was represented in parliament as according to her it was not supposed to be represented,” the judge said.

“But the court could take judicial notice of the fact that Lesotho Workers Party is represented in parliament.”

Lehlokoana wanted Billy to return to them property including tape cassettes and T-shirts as well as M8 000 which she said was a refund from the Independent Electoral Commission paid as the deposit for proportional representation.

Justice Hlajoane’s order marked the end of Lehlokoana’s career in the LWP after a six-year leadership battle between her and Billy.

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