Play by the rules mr Prime minister
AS reported elsewhere in this edition, Prime Minister Thomas has gone on to appoint King’s Counsel (KC) Kananelo Mosito as the new president of the Court of Appeal despite protestations from various quarters. his appointment, which was sealed by a government gazette issued on Friday last week, has already torched a storm, with five top lawyers up in arms over the matter.
The gazette also announced the appointment of Mohlalefi Moteane as member of the Council of the State.
While we hold nothing against Messrs Mosito and Moteane in their personal capacities, their appointment goes against the letter and spirit of the electoral Pledge which is meant to, among other things, create a climate conducive to the holding of elections.
The five lawyers who have queried Advocate Mosito’s appointment, namely KC Salemane Phafane, Motiea Teele, Zwelakhe Mda, Karabo Mohau and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, rightly argue that government cannot make such a crucial decision since it is only ruling on a caretaker basis following the dissolution of parliament on 5 December 2014.
It is just but one of the many reasons the appointment is contentious.
Indeed, the hurried appointment is likely to not only bring the administration of justice into disrepute but also cast doubts on the credibility of the 28 February 2015 elections.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s critics have already accused him of making politically-motivated appointments and using the advantage of incumbency to tilt the electoral scales in his favour.
The electoral Pledge, to which Dr Thabane along with other party leaders is a signatory, is unequivocal on the issue of appointments during the transitional period.
It calls on government to “refrain from undertaking any actions that may undermine the stability of the institutions of the state, including the removal, appointment, demotion or promotion of key officials within the state during the period prior to the elections, subject to due and legal process being followed”.
however, as leader of the caretaker government, Dr Thabane has since promoted Senior Superintendent holomo Molibeli to the post of deputy commissioner of police and Principal Secretary for Cabinet Administration Mothabathe hlalele.
Added to that, the premier also attempted to recall Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana from his special leave in Algeria in contravention of the Maseru Security Accord (MSA).
Under the MSA, security bosses were required to go to an African or Commonwealth country to allow the restoration of peace between the LMPS and Lesotho Defence Force, whose continued feuding — mainly due to personality clashes between Commissioner Tšooana and Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli — had brought Lesotho to the brink of civil war.
The electoral Pledge is also very clear on the need to respect and promote the independence of the Independent electoral Commission (IEC) and support the body in its mandate to facilitate the holding of free and fair elections.
Following the Iec’s order for Special Projects department in the premier’s office to stop offering gifts to villagers around the country ahead of the elections Dr Thabane accused the electoral body of “provoking” him.
The newly-appointed PS, Mr hlalele, even accused the IEC of “snooping” on the premier’s office yet it is the body’s prerogative to ensure all the candidates do not get an unfair advantage.
We couldn’t agree with IEC Commissioner Makase nyaphisi who recently said the perception of vote buying, which was being made by the PM’S Office’s offering of gifts, had the potential of undermining “what already is a delicate electoral process”.
Ultimately, Dr Thabane needs to abide by what he signed up to. he surely cannot have his cake and eat it too. The premier’s mandate is clear under this transitional arrangement; steer the ship to the 28th of February with as little adjustment as possible.
he cannot continue changing the goal posts at such a critical point in this country since he is also a contestant.