- Premier files urgent High Court application to force fired Communications, Science and Technology Minister Selibe Mochoboroane to vacate post.
PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane on Friday filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking an order to compel former Communications, Science and Technology Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, to vacate the post.
The lawsuit comes three weeks after King Letsie III, acting on Dr Thabane’s advice, issued a gazette removing Mr Mochoboroane from the ministerial post.
However, Mr Mochoboroane has continued to operate as Communications, Science and Technology minister, in what Dr Thabane says in the court papers, is a total breach of the country’s laws.
In the application, Dr Thabane wants Mr Mochoboroane to tell the High Court tomorrow “why he should not be ordered to vacate the office of the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, and also ordered to vacate the government house in Maseru West forthwith.”
The premier also wants Mr Mochoboroane to tell the court why he “shall not be ordered to restore and/or handover all government property in his possession, including a government vehicle, cell-phone and all other property given to him by virtue of him being the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology.”
In his supporting affidavit, Dr Thabane narrated events that led to the legal proceedings against Mr Mochoboroane.
“On or about the 16th December 2013, the Respondent (Mr Mochoboroane) was appointed Minister of Communications, Science and Technology by the King, acting in accordance with my advice. I attach hereto and marked annexure ‘A’ a copy of the Legal Notice 168 of 2013 evidencing his appointment.
“On or around 16th October 2014, the Respondent was removed from his position of Minister by the King in accordance with my advice. I attach hereto and marked annexure ‘B’ a copy of Legal Notice No 83 of 2014, which speaks for itself. This information was communicated to the Respondent as per annexure ‘C’.
In terms of Legal Notice No 84 of 2014, also attached, Honourable ‘Makabelo Mosothoane was assigned the responsibility for the business of government relating to Communications, Science and Technology.
“The effect of these legal instruments was that the Respondent ceased to be a minister henceforth, hence he was obliged to vacate his office, government house and restore all government property in his possession,” he stated.
Dr Thabane further states, in the affidavit, that Mr Mochoboroane has not challenged the validity of the two gazettes yet continues operating as a minister in violation of the two pronouncements.
The premier continues in the affidavit: “Despite such removal from office, the Respondent has, to date, failed and is refusing to vacate the office.
“Several attempts have been made to have him comply, including negotiating with him, but he has publicly stated that he will not cooperate, hence we have no other remedy than to approach this honourable court for relief.”
Dr Thabane also argues Mr Mochoboroane’s continued “unlawful” occupation of the ministerial post makes it impossible for Ms Mosothoane to discharge her duties in the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology.
The Prime Minister further notes, in the court papers, that Mr Mochoboroane continues to give instructions and directives to ministerial staff “and this creates confusion to the said staff as regards who the minister in the said ministry is.”
The affidavit continues: “The Respondent not only refuses to vacate the office, but is also refusing to vacate the ministerial residence and restore the official vehicles and cell-phone to the government, which property ought to be returned to government once a minister has been removed.
“The attitude taken by the Respondent may lead to anarchy if citizens do not comply with the dictates of the law.
“The Respondent has not even challenged the lawful legal instruments removing him from office in court, but is embarking on an unlawful contempt of law.”
Dr Thabane further argues that, at the moment, the ministry is not functioning smoothly “at all” because of Mr Mochoboroane’s actions.
The affidavit further notes: “The Respondent (Mr Mochoboroane) is no longer taking instructions from me, as a lawful minister ought to.
“He is not even attending the usual Cabinet meetings nor is he reporting to me about programmes in the ministry. He is virtually no longer accountable to me as the Head of Government of Lesotho. The applicants have no other alternative remedy other than to approach this honourable court for appropriate relief.”
The applicants are Dr Thabane, the Acting Government Secretary and Attorney General.
Mr Mochoboroane is expected to respond to the notice tomorrow, 10 November 2014.