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Thotanyana in court setback

Mohalenyane Phakela

FORMER mining minister, Lebohang Thotanyana will have to wait longer for the High Court to hear his application against his disqualification from the list of candidates for the National Reforms Authority (NRA)’s chief executive officer (CEO).

High Court Judge Keketso Moahloli on Thursday postponed the matter to 1 October 2020. On that day the court will hear arguments as to whether or not it has the jurisdiction to hear Mr Thotanyana’s application.

Mr Thotanyana wants the High Court to nullify the NRA’s recruitment process for its CEO. He argues that the recruitment process was not as transparent as the law requires it to be.

However, the case could not proceed on Thursday after the NRA’s lawyer, Qhalehang Letsika, raised a point of law, saying that Mr Thotanyana’s application was purely a labour related matter which ought to be heard by the Labour Court and not the High Court.

This compelled Justice Moahloli to postpone the matter to 1 October 2020 to allow both sides to argue whether or not the High Court has the jurisdiction to hear the application. Mr Thotanyana is represented by Mr Monaheng Rasekoai.

The mandate of the NRA is “to provide for the management, coordination and leadership of the reforms process”. The multi-sector reforms were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016 as part of efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability in Lesotho.

Mr Thotanyana, who joined the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) from the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) in June 2019, had applied for the CEO’s post.

However, he was disqualified by the NRA selection panel before the interviews got underway on 14 September 2020.

Unhappy with the move, Mr Thotanyana filed an urgent High Court application on 16 September to stop the recruitment process.

He argues that he was not given any reasons for his disqualification even though the National Reforms Authority Act of 2019 states that the processes of appointing NRA staff, including the CEO, must be transparent.

The NRA, the NRA selection panel for the CEO and Deputy CEO, Law and Justice Minister Professor Nqosa Mahao, Attorney General Advocate Haae Phoofolo and the Institute of Development Management (IDM) are the first to fifth respondents respectively.

Messrs Koenane Leanya, Tsiu Khathibe, Mafiroane Motanyane, Selebalo Ntepe and Mawinie Kanetsi who were shortlisted and interviewed for the CEO’s post on Monday have been cited as sixth to 10th respondents respectively.

In his court papers, Mr Thotanyana states that section 14(1)(a) of the NRA Act states that, “The CEO and the Deputy CEO of the NRA shall be appointed by the authority through a fair and transparent process”.

Despite Mr Thotanyana’s application, the NRA still went ahead and appointed Advocate Mafiroane Motanyane as its CEO this week.

NRA chairperson Pelele Letsoela said the authority was unanimous in the decision and was unfazed by allegations that the selection process was biased and unfair.

Mr Letsoela said the NRA was aware of a court case lodged by Mr Thotanyana, over claims that he was “clandestinely” disqualified from the shortlist of candidates.

He said waiting for the outcome of Mr Thotanyana’s application would further delay the processes expected to culminate in the implementation of the constitutional, security sector, judicial, media and governance reforms which were recommended by SADC in 2016.

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