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Thabane petitioned on Mosito

Pascalinah Kabi

A GROUP of people calling themselves a ‘Hands off Mosito Team’ has petitioned Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to appoint a public official to swear in embattled Court of Appeal President, Kananelo Mosito.

Led by Advocate Thulo Hoeane, the team accused Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara of defying the Dr Thabane-led government by failing to swear in Professor Mosito despite a Government Gazette announcing the latter’s appointment as Court of Appeal President.

Justice Mosito was re-appointed Court of Appeal president by Dr Thabane on 1 August 2017, eight months after he was forced to resign to avoid impeachment over tax evasion charges by the Pakalitha Mosisili-led former government.

Two weeks after his reappointment, four lawyers lodged a High Court application challenging the validity of his appointment.

The four, namely: Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, King’s Counsel Karabo Mohau, Motiea Teele and Zwelakhe Mda argue in their constitutional application that Dr Thabane did not follow due process when he advised His Majesty to re-appoint Justice Mosito. The constitutional court is expected to deliver judgement on this case on 9 February 2018.

Addressing the media last Friday, Adv Hoeane said the constitutional court case had no bearing at all on Justice Mosito’s swearing in as Court of Appeal president; saying constant delays in the swearing in ceremony was paralysing the judiciary.

“Ascending to the Court of Appeal presidency isn’t a beauty contest where only beautiful individuals enter for the competition but anyone can be appointed to this position by His Majesty on the Prime Minister’s advice,” Adv Hoeane said.

“Why can’t the same logic be applicable on Mosito especially in a situation where judges with no appointing authority and thus have no power to decide who can or cannot sit on bench are blocking his swearing in?

“It is not their call to make that decision. Only the Prime Minister can advise His Majesty the King on the appointment of the suitable candidate for the bench and no judge has the authority to stop that appointment from taking place,” Adv Hoeane said.

He said they were perplexed by some arguments emerging from some quarters of the public saying that Justice Mosito’s swearing-in could not take place before the constitutional court judgement has been delivered.

Adv Hoeane urged the Prime Minister to ensure that Justice Mosito was sworn-in before the 9 February constitutional court judgement. Should the court judgement be unfavorable to Justice Mosito, Adv Hoeane said the court of appeal president could still appeal while in office.

“We are saying to government, make sure that Mosito is sworn in within the blink of an eye as no one has a right to stand before the government’s directive. If so, the Prime Minister must take firm action against anyone blocking the government’s directive.”

Adv Hoeane added: “You can suspend any judge who defies you as the Prime Minister, you can impeach any judge who defies you since such conduct amounts to misconduct and you can apply for Mandamus (a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty), to have any public official perform the duties of the Chief Justice to swear in Mosito if she defies your order as the Prime Minister to carry out her duties.”

Contacted for comment, the Prime Minister’s Press Attaché, Thabo Thakalekoala said the premier was yet to study the petition from the group.

“As of now we are not able to say whether or not the Prime Minister will agree with their recommendations as the decision will only be made after carefully reading their statement,” Mr Thakalekoala said.

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