Phoofolo waits on High Court
FIRED Attorney General Advocate Haae Phoofolo will have to remain out in the cold a bit longer after the High Court on Thursday postponed to 22 October 2020 the hearing of his application for an interim order for reinstatement.
Adv Phoofolo has sought reinstatement pending the finalisation of his application for a final order revoking Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s 14 September 2020 decision to remove him from his post.
However, Justice Molefi Makara on Thursday postponed the interim application to 22 October 2020 to give the government time to file its opposing papers.
Adv Phoofolo had filed an urgent High Court application on Tuesday seeking the nullification of Dr Majoro’s decision to effectively fire him by ordering him to go on terminal leave pending the expiry of his contract in February 2021.
In his 14 September 2020 letter to Adv Phoofolo, Dr Majoro said it was necessary for the former to go on terminal leave ahead of his departure to facilitate the search for his successor.
But Adv Phoofolo claims Dr Majoro fired him at the behest of the national executive committee (NEC) of his All Basotho Convention (ABC). It is understood that the NEC had branded the 73-year-old Adv Phoofolo “old and incompetent”.
It was also angered that he and Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase sat on 20 August 2020 in their capacity as members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and recommended the appointment of five new judges.
The recommendations torched a storm with ABC deputy leader and Law and Justice Minister, Professor Nqosa Mahao, condemning the duo.
The minister said the recommendations had been done in “secret” without a requisite JSC quorum and in violation of a moratorium on the appointment of judges until the completion of SADC recommended multi-sectoral reforms.
A day after sending Adv Phoofolo on terminal leave, Dr Majoro advised King Letsie III to appoint the Deputy Attorney General, Tšebang Putsoane, as the acting AG.
But Adv Phoofolo argues that his dismissal and the subsequent appointment of Adv Putsoane is illegal on the grounds that only King Letsie III and not a prime minister has the power to appoint and or dismiss him.
He argues that all that Dr Majoro can do is advise the King to appoint or dismiss an attorney general and that his dismissal can only be done after the appointment of tribunal to determine his fitness or lack of it to hold office.
He says no such tribunal was ever appointed before Dr Majoro dismissed him hence his application for a final order declaring his dismissal and the subsequent appointment of Adv Putsoane illegal.