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Setback for opposition parties

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — The High Court on Friday dismissed an urgent application filed by opposition politicians to declare the government set up by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on February 28 unconstitutional.
Justice Lebohang Molete ruled that the application which was filed on Thursday was not an urgent matter.
“The rules and procedure of the court have to be followed and complied with. On the papers of the applicants, no case has been made to treat it as urgent and dispense with the ordinary rules,” Justice Molete said.
He ordered the parties to file the application in the ordinary way and “to comply with the rules as to service and filing”.
The judge added that urgency had not been established and that it would be up to the judge dealing with the matter to allocate the appropriate and nearest date to hear the application.
The urgent application was submitted by Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) deputy leader, Sello Maphalla, with Senkatana leader Lehlohonolo Ts’ehlana being listed as the second applicant.
The third applicant was Pitso Maisa, an MP for the opposition All Basotho Convention party while the fourth applicant was LWP’s ‘Makalle Makara.
In their application the four submitted that the court should declare the ascension and assumption of office of premier by Honourable Pakalitha Mosisili “null and void”.
The applicants also sought an order to declare that the National Assembly did not “elect Pakalitha Mosisili nor any MP as prime minister as contemplated by the constitution and laws of Lesotho”.
The opposition also questioned the vote of confidence made in the august House on February 29 and called for it to be declared “null and void ab initio”.
Maphalla also said the Democratic Congress (DC) government is unconstitutional based on the “acts that played themselves out in parliament”.
Mosisili broke away from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) on February 28 and formed a new party the DC.
The DC was declared the new government on February 28 after 45 MPs controversially “crossed the floor” in parliament to join the new party.
But Maphalla and his three opposition colleagues argue the whole process was flawed and erroneous.
“The acts that played themselves in parliament effectively elected a de facto government which violated the provisions of the constitution,” Maphalla said.
“Notably violated, but not limited to, were the sections dealing with the appointment of prime minister of the government of Lesotho.”
Maphalla also accused Speaker of Parliament Ntlhoi Motsamai of “perpetuating the error of February 28” by allowing into the House a motion for a confidence vote in Mosisili on February 29.
“She allowed the tabling, discussion and voting on a motion that was unconstitutional,” he submitted.
“The motion tabled by Popane Lebesa PR, on February 29 reads that they have confidence in “the prime minister of Lesotho.”
It was misleading for Lebesa to call the MP for Tsoelike the prime minister, for as at February 28, he had lost command and support of the members of the National Assembly “having only 45 members of the 120, Maphalla added.
“Thus the motion should not have been accepted and voted upon. Any acts that followed the motion were thus null and void ab initio.”
Maphalla said “the illegality of a non constitutional government is being perpetuated daily much to the prejudice not only of the members of the National Assembly but to citizens of Lesotho at large”.
“It is the constitutional right of every Mosotho to be governed by a government that adheres to the dictate(s) of the supreme law of the land. It is unfortunate that they are currently being governed by a non constitutional government.”

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