Ju­di­ciary un­der at­tack: Op­po­si­tion

Lesotho Times - - News - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

OP­PO­SI­TION par­ties have dis­missed last Satur­day’s protest march de­mand­ing Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito’s swear­ing-in as Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent say­ing it is a po­lit­i­cal ploy to med­dle in the ju­di­ciary.

The pro­test­ers, who in­cluded le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers and or­di­nary Ba­sotho, de­manded Jus­tice Mos­ito’s swear­ing-in as the top judge “with im­me­di­ate ef­fect”.

The pe­ti­tion­ers also gave Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane seven days, from last Satur­day, to or­der Jus­tice Ma­jara to swearin Jus­tice Mos­ito “fail­ing which she must be sus­pended pend­ing im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against her”.

The pe­ti­tion was handed over to Law, Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs and Hu­man Rights Min­is­ter, Le­bo­hang Hlaele, who said Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara ei­ther had to re­sign or face an im­peach­ment tri­bunal for cor­rup­tion over a con­tro­ver­sial M27 000 per month rental deal.

Demo­cratic Congress chair­per­son, Mot­la­len­toa Let­sosa, told the Le­sotho Times in an in­ter­view this week that the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary was un­der “se­ri­ous at­tack” by the gov­ern­ment.

Mr Let­sosa, who was Law, Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs and Hu­man Rights min­is­ter in the Pakalitha Mo­sisili-led pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, said the ju­di­ciary needed to re­flect the ethos of “in­cor­rupt­ibil­ity, fair­ness, rule of law and in­de­pen­dence”.

“The ju­di­ciary is un­der at­tack and it is very dis­heart­en­ing to hear a whole min­is­ter mak­ing such sick ut­ter­ances about the ju­di­ciary,” he said.

“The ju­di­ciary has been robbed of its in­de­pen­dence and the only thing that it has to do is to stand against such talk in or­der to pro­tect its in­tegrity.”

Mr Let­sosa added: “A judge is not ap­pointed based on po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion. That protest march held on Satur­day was a po­lit­i­cal move to med­dle in the ju­di­ciary.

“Pol­i­tics and the ju­di­ciary don’t go hand in hand at all. This is a smear cam­paign against the ju­di­ciary. The min­is­ter has clearly de­clared war against the ju­di­ciary.”

Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy spokesper­son Te­boho Sekata echoed the sen­ti­ment say­ing Mr Hlaele’s re­marks “prove that the gov­ern­ment has lost the plot”.

“This means they have now robbed the courts of their au­ton­omy. This is one of the gravest mis­takes they have made and we know that they al­ready have some­one tipped for that po­si­tion,” he said.

Pop­u­lar Front for Democ­racy leader, Lekhetho Rakuoane, sup­ported the view, say­ing: “The gov­ern­ment has crossed a red line. The ju­di­ciary may be­come com­pro­mised and won’t be in a po­si­tion to dis­pense jus­tice with­out fear or favour be­cause they will be op­er­at­ing un­der duress.”

For his part, Na­tional In­de­pen­dent Party leader, Kimetso Mathaba, chimed in say­ing: “It is quite as­ton­ish­ing to hear a whole min­is­ter la­belling mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary as politi­cians. In our time as the gov­ern­ment, we al­ways wanted to be­lieve that the courts of law were in­de­pen­dent.”

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