Mos­ito ap­pointed d top judge

. . . con­firmed as Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent with ef­fect from 15 Jan­uary

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

IT’S now of­fi­cial: King’s Coun­sel (KC) Kananelo Mos­ito is the new pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal.

Ad­vo­cate Mos­ito’s ap­point­ment as head of Le­sotho’s ju­di­ciary has been an­nounced through a gov­ern­ment gazette is­sued on Fri­day last week.

Ac­cord­ing to the gazette, the ap­point­ment had been made by King Letsie III, “pur­suant to Sec­tion 124(1) of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho, and act­ing in ac­cor­dance with the ad­vice of the Prime Min­is­ter”.

The gazette fur­ther pro­claimed Dr Mos­ito’s ap­point­ment was with ef­fect from 15 Jan­uary 2015, with sources close to the case telling the Le­sotho Times his swear­ing-in cer­e­mony is set for to­mor­row morn­ing at the Royal Palace.

How­ever, Dr Mos­ito’s ap­point­ment has al­legedly raised the ire of five of the coun­try’s top lawyers who is­sued a pub­lic state­ment last month warn­ing gov­ern­ment against mak­ing such a pro­mo­tion.

In their state­ment, KC Sale­mane Phafane, Motiea Teele, Zwelakhe Mda, Karabo Mo­hau and At­tor­ney Qhale­hang Let­sika, said gov­ern­ment could not make such a cru­cial de­ci­sion as it would only be in power on a care­taker ba­sis fol­low­ing the dis­so­lu­tion of par­lia­ment on 5 De­cem­ber 2014.

Par­lia­ment was dis­solved to pave way for snap elec­tions on 28 Fe­bru­ary this year fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane.

But af­ter re­al­is­ing gov­ern­ment had now for­malised Ad­vo­cate Mos­ito’s ap­point­ment de­spite their ad­vice, the five lawyers held an ur­gent meet­ing in Maseru this week to dis­cuss the is­sue and chart the way for­ward.

One of the lawyers, who spoke to the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day on con­di­tion of anonymity, said: “We met to dis­cuss this is­sue late yes­ter­day (Tues­day), af­ter learn­ing that the gov­ern­ment had gone ahead and ap­pointed Ad­vo­cate Mos­ito as the new Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent de­spite the con­cerns we had raised in our state­ment last month.

“The meet­ing did not agree on a def­i­nite course of action, so we are still weigh­ing our op­tions on how best to tackle this is­sue.

“One of the op­tions could be to take up the mat­ter with the courts or we could sim­ply let sleep­ing dogs lie.

“How­ever, I must clar­ify this point from the on­set, that we are not say­ing Dr Mos­ito is in­com­pe­tent. He is com­pe­tent. What is wrong here is the tim­ing of the ap­point­ment.”

In their state­ment copied to lo­cal, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional lawyers’ as­so­ci­a­tions, Dr Tha­bane, Min­is­ter of Law and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs, Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices, Act­ing Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal, Chief Jus­tice and At­tor­ney Gen­eral, the five lawyers ex­plained why ap­point­ing Dr Mos­ito to the top post at this point in time, would not be ap­pro­pri­ate.

The state­ment noted: “We, the un­der­signed le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers, have dis­cov­ered with a sense of shock and dis­may that one of our col­leagues has been tipped for ap­point­ment as Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal.

“While we do not know the ra­tio­nale behind this hur­ried ap­point­ment in view of the pre­vail­ing sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try, we wish to place on record our reser­va­tions and strong ob­jec­tions for the fol­low­ing rea­sons:

The Court of Ap­peal is the high­est court in the coun­try and plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice.

The hur­ried ap­point­ment is likely to bring the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice into dis­re­pute. As a pro­fes­sion, we have al­ways main­tained that ap­point­ments to the ju­di­ciary must be made on merit through a trans­par­ent and con­sul­ta­tive process.

In par­tic­u­lar, we have al­ways main­tained that such ap­point­ments must be made in con­sul­ta­tion with all stake­hold­ers.

We are re­li­ably in­formed the col­league so tipped has been and continues to be the le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the au­thor­ity re­spon­si­ble for rec­om­mend­ing his ap­point­ment.

The per­cep­tion cre­ated by this ap­point­ment par­tic­u­larly in view of this set of fac­tual ma­trix is that it is done as a means of pa­tron­age.

This ap­point­ment comes hard on the heels of the per­cep­tion that there is a con­certed ef­fort by the pow­ers-that-be to cap­ture key in­sti­tu­tions of state.”

The lawyers also ar­gued Ad­vo­cate Mos­ito’s ap­point­ment was be­ing made by a gov­ern­ment that did not have the au­thor­ity to do so as it was only a care­taker ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The lawyers added: “We wish to ob­serve that this ap­point­ment is made fol­low­ing the dis­so­lu­tion of par­lia­ment. Things be­ing nor­mal, the cur­rent gov­ern­ment, by its na­ture, is tran­si­tional and should not be mak­ing key ap­point­ments.

“We also ob­serve that the ap­point­ment flies in the face of de­ci­sions made in the Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit of Heads of State and Gov­ern­ment in Pre­to­ria, South Africa, on 15 Septem­ber, 2014.”

The lawyers also urged Ad­vo­cate Mos­ito to de­cline the ap­point­ment, not­ing: “Ac­cord­ingly, we ad­vise our learned col­league who has been ap­proached, to take a prin­ci­pled po­si­tion not to ac­cept this ap­point­ment.

“We wish to re­mind him that in coun­tries such as Kenya, judges ap­pointed in sim­i­lar con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances have been forced to re­sign. It is a fate we do not wish to be vis­ited upon our learned col­league.”

The lawyers also warned gov­ern­ment against bring­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice into dis­re­pute.

“We ap­peal to the pow­ers-that-be to avoid bring­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice into dis­re­pute and un­der­min­ing the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary. This is be­cause ju- di­cial of­fi­cers serve an im­por­tant role in en­sur­ing hu­man rights are pro­tected and that all ci­ti­zens have re­course in the courts of law in the event such rights are vi­o­lated.”

Con­tacted for com­ment yes­ter­day, Law So­ci­ety of Le­sotho pres­i­dent, Ad­vo­cate Shale Shale, said: “When this is­sue first came to our at­ten­tion last month, we con­vened a gen­eral meet­ing and it was re­solved Coun­cil should make proper in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­fore the So­ci­ety could make a de­ci­sion.

“We wrote let­ters to the of­fices of the Prime Min­is­ter and Pri­vate Sec­re­tary to the King, to in­quire about the is­sue.

“How­ever, we did not get any re­sponse from ei­ther of­fice, and yes­ter­day (Tues­day), we learnt about the gazette that con­firmed the ap­point­ment.

“The Coun­cil then met this morn­ing (Wed­nes­day) and re­solved that an ur­gent gen­eral meet­ing of the So­ci­ety should be held this Fri­day. And only af­ter Fri­day’s meet­ing can the So­ci­ety pro­nounce it­self on the is­sue.”

Ad­vo­cate Mos­ito, who was act­ing judge of the High Court and presided over Labour Ap­peal Court cases, is Dean in the Fac­ulty of Law at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho (NUL). He also runs his own law firm, KEM Cham­bers, whose head of­fice is in Maseru.

His ap­point­ment as head of the ju­di­ciary comes al­most nine months af­ter the res­ig­na­tion of then of­fice-bearer, Jus­tice Michael Ramod­ibedi.

Jus­tice Ramod­ibedi va­cated the post in April 2014 af­ter los­ing a case be­fore the Court of Ap­peal, in which he wanted to stop im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against him in­sti­tuted by Dr Tha­bane.

Dr Tha­bane had ad­vised King Letsie III to es­tab­lish a tri­bunal to in­ves­ti­gate Jus­tice Ramod­ibedi for pos­si­ble mis­con­duct he al­legedly com­mit­ted on 23 July, 2013.

Jus­tice Dou­glas Scott has been Act­ing Court of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent since Jus­tice Ramod­ibedi’s res­ig­na­tion.

Newly-ap­pointed court of ap­peal pres­i­dent Kananelo Mos­ito (Kc)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.