DPP’S of­fice needs more pro­tec­tion

Lesotho Times - - Leader - So­fonea Shale

The pub­lic re­ac­tion to the fi­nal­ity of the le­gal bat­tle for Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) Leaba Thet­sane to re­main in of­fice un­til at­tain­ment of 60 years of age and the sen­ti­ments ex­pressed by the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­th­etjoa Mets­ing on the al­leged per­se­cu­tion of the DPP do not only raise eye­brows, but add po­lit­i­cal pep­per and salt to the bruises the DPP has al­ready suf­fered.

The cred­i­bil­ity of statu­tory of­fices and the in­sti­tu­tions of gov­er­nance is crit­i­cal for the proper func­tion­ing of democ­racy. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ev­ery leader to in­stil within his or her fol­low­ers the sense of re­spect for the in­sti­tu­tions of gov­er­nance.

Erod­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence in th­ese in­sti­tu­tions is an ef­fec­tive way of cre­at­ing an­ar­chy. This is why lead­ers should be stopped, in all fair­ness, from sow­ing seeds of bit­ter­ness among the pop­u­lace on those who hold such of­fices.

When po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, mainly from the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) and the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), ut­tered state­ments which had the ef­fect of erod­ing re­spectabil­ity of the newly-ap­pointed IEC Com­mis­sion­ers, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions took up the is­sue.

The smooth res­o­lu­tion of that mat­ter had not only cleared the air but also gave Com­mis­sion­ers op­por­tu­nity to demon­strate what may be re­garded as high level of acu­men in deal­ing with dis­con­tent on the out­come of ThabaPhechela by-elec­tions.

Though it would not only be un­re­al­is­tic but also un­fair on the me­dia to ex­pect it to hold ex­per­tise on ev­ery as­pect of so­ci­etal life, it may be pru­dent for the me­dia not to be just a chan­nel of pre­con­ceived po­lit­i­cal ideas.

Although the Court of Ap­peal has clearly stated that the DPP will re­tire at the age of 60 years as s op­posed to 55 years that the gov­ern­ment en­vis­aged, the me­dia has de­cided to fa­cil­i­tate pub­lic dis­cus­sion on the mat­ter in the man­ner that ad­vances par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal in­cli­na­tions while in the process, the crit­i­cal vic­tory of hu­man rights de­fence and per­haps the abil­ity of the courts to bal­ance power of ex­ec­u­tive are rel­e­gated to the dogs.

In what me­dia houses termed their anal­y­sis ques­tions posed be­fore au­di­ence in­clude whether the court decision has not ex­posed the DPP to ad­min­is­tra­tive process such as trans­fer, re­moval from of­fice of DPP to other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties such as man­ag­ing stores, trans­port or other du­ties in any of the Min­istries of the gov­ern­ment in­clud­ing those in the dis­tricts?

Given the tone set, pub­lic do not get op­por­tu­nity to know that the court has not amended Sec­tion 141 (4) of the Le­sotho con­sti­tu­tion which clearly stip­u­lates that DPP may not be re­moved from of­fice for any other rea­sons ex­cept for the in­abil­ity to func­tion, mis­be­haviour or any other cause. Since there is only one DPP, there is no way, a trans­fer can be thought with­out it be­ing re­garded as re­moval.

This sec­tion fur­ther pro­vides that should there be a rea­son to be­lieve that the DPP is limited in do­ing his or her job, the Prime Min­is­ter or the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion may so ex­press in­ten­tion to the King who will in turn es­tab­lish a tri­bunal to in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter.

It is only if the tri­bunal ad­vices the King that the DPP should be re­moved that it may hap­pen. The limited me­dia anal­y­sis does not only deny or­di­nary cit­i­zens op­por­tu­nity to learn about and un­der­stand the con­sti­tu­tion but also paral­y­ses the na­tion along party lines not to cel­e­brate their vic­to­ries. The pub­lic re­ac­tion to this court decision has been mis­di­rected by the me­dia not look at the big­ger pic­ture but just follow the party po­lit­i­cal sen­ti­ments.

When the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and the Leader of LCD said him­self and his party will die where the DPP will fall if fur­ther per­se­cu­tions are made, he did not help re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence in the DPP but po­larised po­si­tions even fur­ther de­spite the good in­ten­tions he may had. Con­sid­er­ing that those who felt ag­grieved by the DPP’S vic­tory are mainly the ABC, such a dec­la­ra­tion from LCD wors­ens the sit­u­a­tion of the al­ready bruised DPP.

In fact this case has not only pro­vided the con­sti­tu­tional in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act in so far re­tire­ment age for the DPP is con­cerned. The ver­dict of the court means that in the sim­i­lar man­ner that ABC or any could not re­move the DPP with­out fol­low­ing Sec­tion 141(4), (6), (7), DPP does not need to be pro­tected by LCD, DC or any po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tion be­cause the con­sti­tu­tion it­self is ad­e­quate.

Ris­ing above the po­lit­i­cal waves on this mat­ter, Ba­sotho would re­alise that in the le­gal bat­tle that has surely left po­lit­i­cal scars and bruises, there is no loser. The DPP has won and emerged stronger, the ju­di­cial jus­tice sys­tem in this coun­try has passed the test and won, the gov­ern­ment has by los­ing and ad­mit­ting DPP back to of­fice won by sub­mit­ting to law and re­defin­ing its stance to­wards rule of law.

From the prac­ti­cal po­lit­i­cal point of view, the widely held view that ABC be­lieves that DPP abuses his of­fice to sti­fle its lit­i­ga­tion pro­gramme par­tic­u­larly against tar­geted big fish, equally cre­ates an im­pres­sion on the other hand that the seem­ing sym­pa­thy of LCD, DC and other for­ma­tions of congress ori­en­ta­tion is a false pre­tence. In th­ese di­choto­mous and po­larised po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions over the of­fice of DPP, the in­cum­bent has not just been a spec­ta­tor or re­mained grass in the kraal when two ele­phants were fight­ing he put up a heroic fight. As if the court case was be­tween LCD and ABC, the ver­dict is de­fined along party lines as ei­ther a win or lose to one or other side.

Per­haps beyond the naivety, politi­ci­sa­tion and sen­sa­tion­al­ism that are cloud­ing the DPP case, what now re­mains is the ques­tion whether DPP will rise to the oc­ca­sion and dis­charge his du­ties ob­jec­tively in the oth­er­wise volatile sit­u­a­tion.

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