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Date set for constitutional application to stop Majoro’s ouster

 

Mohalenyane Phakela

TWO senior members of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s constitutional application to stop the party from recalling Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro will be heard on 22 December 2021.

The application was filed last week by Messrs Keketso Lepheane and Tlali Mohapi. Mr Mohapi, a staunch Majoro ally, is also challenging Mr Thabane’s claims that he (Mohapi) resigned his post as party treasurer two months ago.  Mr Lepheane is the suspended ABC chairperson for the Butha-Buthe constituency.

Their application will be heard by Justices Molefi Makara, Keketso Moahloli and Fumane Khabo.

THE ABC’s NEC, the ABC, Mr Thabane, Law and Justice Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane, Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), all political parties, Dr Majoro and Mr Kabi are the first to ninth respondents respectively in the application.

Announcing the hearing date on Thursday, Justice Makara said the applicants had to file their heads of arguments by 16 December 2021 latest. The respondents would have to filed their answering affidavits and heads of arguments on 20 December 2021.

Justice Makara also said all political parties would have to be served with the court papers since they were cited as the seventh respondents in the application.

“We are aware that the political parties are the seventh respondent and our concern relates to those that have not been served with the papers. One of the prayers will affect all political parties if granted,” Justice Makara said.

This was in reference to Messrs Mohapi and Lepheane’s argument that Lesotho’s common law position that political parties are private entities, in the same category as churches, is legally unsound as the political parties make decisions which ultimately have a bearing on national security, investment and public opinion.

They therefore pray on the Constitutional Court to declare that “the common law regarding the legal status of political parties registered with the IEC as private legal entities subject to their respective constitutions, rules and by-laws and limited judicial review grounds as unconstitutional, null and void”.

They want an order “declaring the political parties registered or to be registered with the IEC as public institutions, semi-public institutions and as such they are amenable to ordinary public law normative frameworks, principles and standards”.

More importantly, Messrs Mohapi and Lepheane want an order “declaring the decision of the first and second respondents (ABC’s NEC and ABC) to recall the sitting Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and instructing him to resign from the position as unconstitutional, null and void”.

They want an order “interdicting and restraining the first and second respondents from performing any function, exercising any power and taking any decision which violates or has the effect of violating the Constitution of Lesotho as well as the constitutional principles and values embodied in the Constitution”.

Messrs Mohapi and Lepheane filed their urgent application in the wake of the 2 December 2021 NEC decision to recall Dr Majoro from the premiership. Ten out of 17 NEC members voted to recall Dr Majoro and replace him with deputy secretary general and now fired cabinet minister, Nkaku Kabi. Only seven voted to retain Dr Majoro.

ABC spokesperson Masoetsa subsequently said the NEC had elected Mr Kabi to replace Dr Majoro following an outcry within the party and the general public over his alleged incompetence. This had been manifested through Dr Majoro’s alleged failure to stop the high murder rates in the country and ensure efficient service delivery over the course of his 19 months in power, Mr Masoetsa said.

In their court papers, Messrs Mohapi and Lepheane beg the court to stop the ABC from recalling Dr Majoro, saying the “unconstitutional” move “not only threatens the stability of the country but has far reaching consequences on security, investment and public order of the state”.

“The authority of the Honourable Court is consequently required to protect the constitutional values of the rule of law, to order compliance with the constitutional principles and values, and maintain the integrity of the constitution,” Messrs Mohapi and Lepheane argue.

 

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