Tha­bane’s ‘ex’ wife is first lady – High Court

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s es­tranged wife, Lipolelo Alice Tha­bane, is the coun­try’s of­fi­cial First Lady and should be im­me­di­ately af­forded all benefits she is en­ti­tled to in­clud­ing a Chauf­fer driven gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cle and a body­guard, the High Court has ruled.

The judg­ment is a ma­jor blow to the Prime Min­is­ter’s cur­rent young part­ner, Li­a­biloe Ramo­holi, as it ef­fec­tively recog­nises Lipolelo as the prime min­is­ter’s right­ful wife and First Lady, at least for now pending the fi­nal­iza­tion of a di­vorce case Dr Tha­bane in­sti­tuted against Lipolelo.

Li­a­biloe, whom the pre­mier had cus­tom­ar­ily mar­ried, and has been ex­er­cis­ing the du­ties and en­joy­ing the benefits of be­ing the First Spouse can no longer do that af­ter the judg­ment by Jus­tice Molefi Makara.

That role should now be af­forded to Lipolelo af­ter the judg­ment banned Li­a­biloe from “per­form­ing any func­tions and ex­er­cis­ing any rights vested in the ap­pli­cant (Lipolelo) as the First Spouse in terms of Act 10 of 2011.”

Jus­tice Makara also or­dered that Dr Tha­bane and Public Ser­vice Min­is­ter Mot­lo­h­eloa Phooko must stop mak­ing any pay­ments to Li­a­biloe from the gov­ern­ment’s cof­fers. The two must not pay any other monies or al­lowances to Li­a­biloe if such pay­ments are legally due to be paid to the First Spouse, in this case Lipolelo.

The judge or­dered that Lipolelo be given all the benefits due to her in terms of the Prime Min­is­ter and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter (Re­tire­ment and Spouses’ Benefits) Act, 2011 (Act No: 10 of 2011).

Th­ese in­clude a “a chauf­feur-driven gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cle, a body guard and other benefits she Lipolelo is en­ti­tled to in terms of the same Act.

The court also di­rected that Dr Tha­bane pay school fees forth­with for a mi­nor child him and Lipolelo adopted.

The judg­ment is a part-cul­mi­na­tion of the bat­tles be­tween the prime Min­is­ter and Lipolelo.

Dr Tha­bane filed di­vorce pa­pers against Lipolelo On July 27, 2012, on grounds of ma­li­cious de­ser­tion, among other things. The mat­ter is still pending in the courts.

How­ever, Lipolelo counter sued the Pre­mier late last year and asked the courts to stop his Li­a­biloe, whom he had just mar­ried tra­di­tion­ally, to stop act­ing as the first Lady and en­joy­ing any benefits as­so­ci­ated with the of­fice of First spouse. Lipolelo ar­gued this was be­cause she was still legally mar­ried to Dr Tha­bane and the benefits should ac­crue to her.

In terms of Sec­tion 4 of the Act No: 10 of 2011, the spouse of the prime min­is­ter shall be paid a per­sonal al­lowance and of­fi­cial al­lowance; the of­fi­cial al­lowance shall be used for public in­ter­est pur­poses.

The Act fur­ther pro­vides in Sec­tion 8 (2) that the spouse of the prime min­is­ter shall be en­ti­tled to, among other things, a chauf­feur-driven gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cle, free med­i­cal treat­ment and a body­guard.

Lipolelo, rep­re­sented by Ad­vo­cate Zwe­lakhe Mda (King’s Coun­cil), had ar­gued that all th­ese benefits were due to her as she was still Dr Tha­bane’s of­fi­cial wife. She won her case this week, mean­ing Dr Tha­bane and Li­a­biloe would be in contempt of court if the lat­ter re­ceives any of the stated benefits in law.

It seems the Prime Min­is­ter would only be able to en­sure that his young sweet­heart, Li­a­biloe, re­gains her po­si­tion only af­ter the courts have made a fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion on his di­vorce ap­pli­ca­tion against Lipolelo.

The di­vorce case it­self had opened a pan­do­ras box with court pa­pers filed by both sides al­leg­ing in­fi­delity and fam­ily as­saults.

Prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane and his es­tranged wife Lipolelo Alice Tha­bane.

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