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HOPE leader challenges foreign mission appointments

Moorosi Tsiane

HOPE party leader, Machabana Lemphana-Letsie, has petitioned the High Court to review the government’s September 2022 decision to appoint 12 people to Lesotho’s foreign missions.

This on account that the decision was made by a caretaker government when King Letsie III had already dissolved parliament in preparation for the just ended 7 October 2022 elections. Parliament was dissolved on 14 July 2022 and effectively, the outgoing government because a caretaker administration which does not have power to make and such appointments.

HOPE and Ms Lemphana-Letsie are the first and second applicants respectively while outgoing Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, the Public Service Commission, the Foreign Affairs and International Relations ministry, Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa, former Deputy Education and Training minister Thabang Kholumo, Mookho Mphonyo, Azael Letsie, Mamoitheri Hanese, Mohlomeli Dikiso, Mohlomi Sello, Mamahahabo Lethoba, Doreen Chaoana, Mamorapeli Lesoetsa, Likhapa Seliane, Tebello Raasee and Mamoratei Bokopane are the first to 16th respondents respectively.

In her court papers filed recently, Ms Lemphana-Letsie says she learnt some time last month that the government was planning to make foreign mission appointments.

She wants the court to interdict the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs and International Relations ministry from appointing the 5th to 16th respondents pending the finalisation of the case.

“The government of the Lesotho led by the Honourable Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, made a decision to deploy some people to Lesotho’s diplomatic missions. It is not clear when that decision was made. I can only inform the honourable court that the decision is presently undergoing implementation hence the urgent approach to the court.”

Despite sending a party official to the Foreign Affairs ministry to seek information on the matter on 15 September 2022, Ms Lemphana-Letsie says the official failed to get any information.

She also wanted to know the number of Lesotho’s embassies and high commissions abroad, their staff complement, staff emoluments budget and the overall budget required to maintain Lesotho’s embassies.

“The person I sent was not assisted. In short, he met bureaucratic red tape famous with government offices. I later received information that some people were appointed to the country’s diplomatic missions mostly in first world countries.

“On 22 September 2022 I got information that the 5th to 16th respondents were appointed to Lesotho’s diplomatic missions. I sought information from the Prime Minister’s office but I did not get any cooperation. I had no other option but to instruct my lawyers to launch the present proceedings,” Ms Lemphana-Letsie says in her founding affidavit.

She argues that the appointments violate section 30 (C) of the Constitution in that other Basotho were not given equal opportunity to apply for such posts.
She further argues that Dr Majoro’s caretaker government did not have power to make any foreign mission appointments in the period between the dissolution of parliament and coming of the new parliament.

“The appointment of the 5th to the 16th respondents is improper and unfair in that it violates section 30 (c) of the Constitution of Lesotho 1993, in that other Basotho were never given equal opportunity to apply, be interviewed and if successful be employed. The decision is irrational because of its timing.”

She says the decision would cost the country if the appointees are allowed to commence their duties because they would eventually need to be recalled once a new government is in place.

“I aver that against the above background, I ask the court to review the decision of the respondents to attempt to appoint the officers at Lesotho’s diplomatic during the period prior to the elections and when Parliament stands dissolved and until the next Parliament comes into force.

“The government has in fact considered only political appointees to the exclusion of the rest of Basotho when the enabling section of the constitution does not authorise differentiation of Basotho.

“The government’s act is not justifiable both in law and on the facts. The applicants were given a selective treatment to the exclusion of other Basotho who may be duly qualified to serve the Government better than them. There is therefore, no reasonable government which make the decision which has been made by the people at the helm of government today.”

The lid on the appointments was lifted by All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Nkaku Kabi, while he was addressing his party’s rally in Kolonyama, Leribe last month.

Mr Kabi accused Dr Majoro of allegedly conniving with his deputy, Mathibeli Mokhothu, to unprocedurally deploy 23 individuals to Lesotho’s various diplomatic missions abroad.

Mr Kabi’s gripe with the appointments was that they were made without the ABC national executive committee (NEC)’s knowledge.

The matter was filed last week and is yet to be allocated a date.

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