Court rules against BNP

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

THE Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) yes­ter­day lost a case in the High Court in which it sought the nul­li­fi­ca­tion of the party’s Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion (PR) list pub­lished by the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) last week.

The party and its Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC) filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the court on Wed­nes­day last week seek­ing the can­ce­la­tion of the PR list sub­mit­ted to the IEC by the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Le­so­jane Leuta on 4 Fe­bru­ary.

In the court pa­pers, the BNP and its NEC cited the IEC, IEC Direc­tor of Elec­tions and Mr Leuta as re­spon­dents in the case.

In the doc­u­ments, the Deputy Min­is­ter of Health Nthabiseng Makoae, in her ca­pac­ity as the party’s chair­per­son, al­leged Mr Leuta had sub­mit­ted the PR list with­out be­ing au­tho­rised to do so by the party.

She noted, in her af­fi­davit, that Mr Leuta sub­mit­ted the list to re­place an­other that had al­ready been given to the IEC.

How­ever, High Court judge Jus­tice Tšeliso Mon­aphathi dis­missed the ap­pli­ca­tion last night on the grounds that Dr Makoae did not have the pow­ers to write an af­fi­davit on be­half of the party.

“I am bound to make a de­ci­sion on this mat­ter now.

“I can in­stantly ob­serve that this ap­pli­ca­tion shows the ex­tent of the con­fu­sion which the BNP has been deal­ing with, but I don’t see why there was this con­fu­sion in the fil­ing of the party list to the IEC. It’s a mys­tery!

“What is im­por­tant is that the IEC, at all times, wanted to com­ply with the Elec­toral Act,” he said.

Jus­tice Mon­aphathi fur­ther noted the IEC had the right to re­ject the third list the BNP sub­mit­ted on 9 Fe­bru­ary to sub­sti­tute Mr Leuta’s sub­mis­sion of 4 Fe­bru­ary.

“Most im­por­tantly, it looks like the com­mis­sion has the author­ity to do what it did.

“I don’t un­der­mine the dis­sat­is­fac­tion by the BNP about the list, but clearly there was con­fu­sion that the BNP wanted clar­i­fied,” he said.

Jus­tice Mon­aphathi fur­ther noted he would not de­cide the case on its mer­its but only on the points of law raised by the re­spon­dents.

The BNP, he added, had failed to cite, as re­spon­dents, four peo­ple the party wanted re­moved from the PR list .

The four were Aaron Liphoto, ‘ Manchela Nchela, Mo­halenyane Masasa and ‘ Ma­li­neo Mothabeng.

“It is not de­nied that the list will ad­versely af­fect four peo­ple whose names ap­pear on the sec­ond list (the fi­nal list that ap­pears in the IEC gazette).

“They are in­ter­ested and nec­es­sary par­ties to th­ese pro­ceed­ings.

“It has been sub­mit­ted that fail­ure to cite them ren­ders them non-suited. This is one of the grounds why I dis­miss this ap­pli­ca­tion.

“I was as­tounded that coun­sel for ap­pli­cants (Ad­vo­cate Moeketsi Lekobane) did not ap­pre­ci­ate this is­sue of peo­ple be­ing in­ter­ested and af­fected by th­ese pro­ceed­ings,” Jus­tice Mon­aphathi said.

He also said there should have been res­o­lu­tions from the NEC meet­ing prov­ing that Dr Makoae had been man­dated to make the af­fi­davit on be­half of the party.

The judge noted fail­ure to pro­vide the court with such res­o­lu­tions had made him de­cide in favour of Mr Leuta who al­leged in court pa­pers that Dr Makoae did not have the party’s man­date to in­sti­tute such legal pro­ceed­ings.

“There must be proof that one has been au­tho­rised to sue on be­half of the BNP by way of a res­o­lu­tion.

“Here there is no such author­ity ex­cept that coun­sel re­ferred to the con­sti­tu­tion (of the BNP) where pow­ers of ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers are stip­u­lated.

“I refuse to agree that Ms Makoae is em­pow­ered to lit­i­gate on be­half of the party,” he ruled.

Jus­tice Mon­aphathi also crit­i­cised the party for fail­ing to lodge its ob­jec­tion with the IEC be­fore tak­ing the case to the High Court.

“I don’t find any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this ap­pli­ca­tion which was mis­con­ceived and made out of des­per­a­tion.“it’s amaz­ing that there was this kind of con­fu­sion.

“I dis­miss this ap­pli­ca­tion with costs to the re­spon­dents,” he ruled.

Mean­while, in the court pa­pers, Mr Leuta had ar­gued that he was au­tho­rised by party leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane to sub­sti­tute the list.

How­ever, Chief ‘ Maserib­ane had de­nied this claim in his pa­pers also filed be­fore the court.

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