State bodies must remain apolitical
APPEAL Court President, Justice Kananelo Mosito, is fighting on many fronts to save his job. As reported in this edition, Justice Mosito was given seven days by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to give reasons why he should not be fired for “misbehaviour and/or inability to perform the functions of your office”.
On the other hand, he also has to contend with Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), King’s Counsel Leaba Thetsane’s decision to prosecute him for the alleged late filing of tax return forms for his law firm, KEM Chambers, for the past 19 years. What is patently clear is that government wants to see the back of Justice Mosito and is pulling all the stops to ensure it happens soon.
However, what is disconcerting in this soap opera is that the vicious cycle of state institutions and instruments being used to achieve certain ends is not ending any time soon.
Granted, government has the prerogative and right to appoint and disappoint. However, the process of dismissal needs to remain above board to ensure the public continues to trust state institutions. If allowed to fester, the use of state institutions to settle political or other scores can sound the death knell for Lesotho’s democracy. In some countries in Africa and beyond, tyrannical regimes have meted out systematic repression to people and organisations which dare to oppose their rule. For instance, in such countries as Zimbabwe and Uganda, state institutions such as the judiciary are so compromised that charges against the ruling elite’s opponents are clearly planned and directed by the executive.
For Ugandan opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, his arrests for various spurious charges usually coincide with the holding of elections in the East African country. The same goes for his Zimbabwean counterpart Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe who has been charged with treason, insurrection and many other ludicrous accusations which could not stand in any decent court of law.
While these examples may seem far removed from Lesotho and its seemingly more civilised political system, they highlight the fact that the erosion of the rule of law is a slippery slope which is difficult to come back from.
Venerable offices such as those of the DPP and the attorney general should continue to be perceived as justiciable and catering for the needs of all Basotho regardless of political persuasion. What Lesotho cannot afford is for state institutions to be seen as operating according to the whims and caprices of the government in power.