Mos­ito sus­pended

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Con­tact us:

COURT of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito has been sus­pended, paving the way for his im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings by the govern­ment to com­mence.

The se­nior judge’s sus­pen­sion by King Let­sie III is the cul­mi­na­tion of a seem­ingly spir­ited bid by Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili to get rid of the judge pro­moted to the most high ju­di­ciary post by the premier’s pre­de­ces­sor Thomas Tha­bane.

Jus­tice Mos­ito’s in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion is with ef­fect from 12 Fe­bru­ary 2016. It was pub­lished in a govern­ment gazette dated 11 Fe­bru­ary 2016 and signed by King Let­sie III, act­ing on the ad­vice of Dr Mo­sisili in ac­cor­dance with the con­sti­tu­tion.

The sus­pen­sion is with full ben­e­fits and was made in line with Sec­tion 125(7) of the Con­sti­tu­tion, the Gazette said.

In ad­di­tion to the Gazette, the Govern­ment Sec­re­tary (GS)’S of­fice also is­sued a state­ment this week con­firm­ing Jus­tice Mos­ito’s sus­pen­sion, which it said was to al­low in­ves­ti­ga­tions into al­le­ga­tions that he did not pay in­come tax be­tween 1996 and 2014.

Dr Mos­ito was ap­pointed Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent in Jan­uary 2015, tak­ing over from Jus­tice Michael Ramod­ibedi who had re­signed af­ter los­ing a pro­tracted le­gal bat­tle to stop his im­peach­ment for al­leged abuse of of­fice.

Part of the state­ment reads: “The of­fice of the Govern­ment Sec­re­tary an­nounces that in terms of the Le­gal No­tice of 12 Fe­bru­ary 2016, the Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal, Dr Kananelo Mos­ito, has been sus­pended from duty to al­low in­ves­ti­ga­tions into his al­leged vi­o­la­tion of tax laws.

“This fol­lows the ad­vice of the Prime Min­is­ter, Dr Pakalitha Mo­sisili, to His Majesty King Let­sie III, that it is to pro­tect the courts’ dig­nity that the in­ves­ti­ga­tions pro­ceed when he is not in his po­si­tion.

“In the mean­time, prepa­ra­tions are at an ad­vanced stage to ap­point the act­ing Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal.”

Re­peated at­tempts to talk to Dr Mos­ito yes­ter­day were fruit­less while his lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Mon­a­heng Rasekoai, was also not avail­able for com­ment.

Dr Mos­ito’s sus­pen­sion also fol­lows a let­ter writ­ten by Dr Mo­sisili on 8 Fe­bru­ary 2016, in which the prime min­is­ter out­lined his in­ten­tion to ad­vise the King to sus­pend him.

In the let­ter, Dr Mo­sisili gave Jus­tice Mos­ito seven days to show cause why he should not go ahead with his ob­jec­tive to sus­pend the top judge.

Part of the premier’s cor­re­spon­dence reads: “In the cir­cum­stances, I in­tend to ad­vise His Majesty the King to sus­pend you from of­fice and ex­er­cise of its func­tions, pur­suant to sec­tion 125(7) of the con­sti­tu­tion.

“In my view, it is in­im­i­cal to the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice and in­tegrity of the ju­di­ciary that in all the cir­cum­stances of your case, you should still con­tinue be­ing in of­fice and ex­er­cis­ing the func­tions thereof.

“How­ever, I in­vite you to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions, show­ing cause, if any, why I can­not pro­ceed as in­di­cated above.”

On 4 Fe­bru­ary 2016, Dr Mo­sisili had also writ­ten to the judge re­gard­ing the same is­sue.

In the let­ter, ti­tled ‘En­quiry in terms of Sec­tion 125 of the Con­sti­tu­tion’, the premier in­formed Jus­tice Mos­ito that he had ad­vised the King to es­tab­lish a tri­bunal to in­ves­ti­gate his con­duct and which could lead to his im­peach­ment.

The let­ter read in part: “My let­ters of 8 Oc­to­ber 2015 and 16 Oc­to­ber 2015, in­clud­ing yours of 21 De­cem­ber 2015, bear ref­er­ence. Fur­ther, in the same con­nec­tion, ref­er­ence is to the Court of Ap­peal de­ci­sion and or­der of 26 Jan­uary 2016, whose ef­fect was to refuse your ap­pli­ca­tion that the in­tended en­quiry un­der Sec­tion 125 of the con­sti­tu­tion, be halted.”

Dr Mo­sisili was re­fer­ring to Jus­tice Mos­ito’s failed Con­sti­tu­tional Court bid to pre­vent the premier from es­tab­lish­ing the im­peach­ment tri­bunal against him.

The prime min­is­ter said it was against this back­ground that he ad­vised the King to es­tab­lish the tri­bunal.

“There­fore, you are hereby no- ti­fied that His Majesty the King has ap­pointed a tri­bunal in terms of Sec­tion 125(5) ) of the Con­sti­tu­tion to en­quire in­tonto the ques­tion of your re­moval fro­mom of­fice for mis­be­haviour or in­abil­ity abil­ity to per­form the func­tions of your of­fice as the Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal, to which of­fice you were ap­pointed on 15th Jan­uary, 2015,”15,” he said.

The prime min­is­ter nis­ter then an­nounced the names mes of mem­bers of the tri­bunal, who are all from South Africa.a. The judges are Jus­tice Fred­erik derik Daniel Ja­cobus Brand, Jus­tice Noel Vic­tor Hurt, and Jus­tice John God­frey Fox­croft.

Ac­cord­ing to Drr Mo­sisili’s let­ter, the tri­bunal nal will be­gin its work on 9 Marchrch 2016.

The let­ter con­tin­ues:ntin­ues: “To that end, you aree re­quired to at­tend the first sit­ting of the tri­bunal at 10am m on 9 March 2016 in Court 1 of the High Court of Le­sotho o for fur­ther con­duct of the pro­ceed­ings ro­ceed­ings to be de­ter­mined.”

In the cor­re­spon­dence,pon­dence, Dr Mo­sisili also out­linest­lines why he wants Jus­tice Mos­ito out of of­fice.

“Dur­ing the pe­riod riod 1996 – 2014, and while you were ere a prac­tic­ing ad­vo­cate and tax­pay­er­ax­payer as de de­fined in Sec­tion 3 of the In­come Tax Act, (‘the Act’) you did fail to ren­der a re­turn of in­come tax for each suc­ceed­ing year of as­sess­ment (‘fis­cal year’) on or be­fore 30 June of the fol­low­ing year, to wit, on 19 oc­ca­sions, in con­tra­ven­tion of Sec­tion 128(2) read with Sec­tion 175(1) of the Act, and were only reg­is­tered as a tax­payer with the Le­sotho Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (LRA) for the first time on 20 April 2015,” he said.

“Such con­duct con­sti­tuted mis­be­haviour ren­der­ing you un­fit to con­tinue in of­fice and also ren­ders you un­able to prop­erly per­form your func­tions as Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal.”

The premier also took ex­cep­tion to Jus­tice Mos­ito’s ar­gu­ment that some top lawyers had also not paid in­come tax and that his pros­e­cu­tion was dis­crim­i­na­tory.

To prove his point, the judge in Oc­to­ber last year re­quested the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to com­pel the LRA to dis­close the tax sta­tus of all High Court and Court of Ap­peal judges, as well as five of the coun­try’s top lawyers.

Dr Mo­sisili charged in his let­ter: “Such in­ves­ti­ga­tions were con­ducted with­out the knowl­edge or con­sent of the sub­jects of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“Such in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tra­vened the se­crecy pro­vi­sions of Sec­tion 202 of the Act and con­sti­tuted mis­be­hav­ior, ren­der­ing you un­fit to con­tinue in of­fice.”

It seems Judge Mos­ito, from in­fer­ences from his court pa­pers, and his sym­pa­thiz­ers are of the view that he is be­ing tar­geted sim­ply be­cause he was ap­pointed by Dr Tha­bane. Moreso af­ter the re­moval from of­fice of sev­eral other se­nior of­fi­cers, mainly prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries, from their posts af­ter Tha­bane’s ouster. Mos­ito’s sup­port­ers fur­ther ac­cuse Dr Mo­sisili of want­ing to re­move judge Mos­ito to put his own man at the apex of the top court.

But Dr Mo­sisili’s sym­pa­thiz­ers, in­clud­ing many top ad­vo­cates, who went pub­lic with their op­po­si­tion of judge Mos­ito’s ap­point­ment by Dr Tha­bane in the first place, in­sist that the Prime Min­is­ter is right be­cause the top judge in­deed broke the law by not fil­ing his tax re­turns.

“The law is the law and it is oblig­a­tory for ev­ery ci­ti­zen to sub­mit their tax re­turns. The onus is even higher on the judges who should up­hold the law.

“To seek to jus­tify evad­ing this obli­ga­tion on the ba­sis that oth­ers did not do it — as (Judge) Mos­ito had en­deav­oured to do- sim­ply does not wash…. He (Mos­ito) can­not have his cake and eat it,” said a lawyer, who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied for pro­fes­sional rea­sons, but who is sup­port­ing Dr Mo­sisili’s ac­tions against Judge Mos­ito.

JUS­TICE Mpa­phi Phumaphi

SUS­PENDED Court of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.