ACTING Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase yesterday granted an interim order barring the newly elected national executive committee (NEC) of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) from assuming the office until the main application seeking the nullification of their election is finalised.
Justice Mahase granted the interim order following an application by ministers Habofanoe Lehana (Trade and Industry), Keketso Sello (Mining) and the ABC’s legislator for the Rothe constituency, Mohapi Mohapinyane.
The trio want the court to nullify the election of Professor Nqosa Mahao and others to the party’s NEC. They also want the court to order fresh elections within three months of the finalisation of their court application.
The ABC, the ABC’s NEC, the Lesotho Council of Non-governmental Organisations (LCN), Prof Mahao and other candidates in the ABC polls are cited as the first to 44th respondents in the lawsuit. The LCN are cited in their capacity as the organisation that ran the polls on behalf of the ABC and announced the new NEC line-up.
Justice Mahase will hear the main application tomorrow at 9:30am.
Yesterday, Justice Mahase heard the case in chambers with only the applicants and the defendants’ lawyers in attendance. Late in the afternoon at about 5pm, one of the defendants’ lawyers, Advocate ‘Mabatṧoeneng Hlaele, emerged from the judge’s chambers and read out Justice Mahase’s interim order to the crowd that had gathered in vain to hear the proceedings.
“I order that prayers 1 and 2(a), (b) and (c) be granted as prayed and…this means that the new NEC has no powers or will not be given any keys to the office until the finalisation of the matter which will be heard on Friday,” Adv Hlaele read on behalf of Justice Mahase.
Prayer 1 states that, “the normal modes and periods of service shall not be dispensed with due to the urgency of this matter”.
Prayer 2(a) states that, “the first respondent (ABC) shall be interdicted from confirming its purported new NEC elected during its recent elective conference pending finalisation (of the application).
Prayer 2(b) states that, “the second respondent (ABC’s old NEC) shall be interdicted from handing over the properties of the first respondent (ABC) to the purported newly elected committee pending the final determination of this application”.
Prayer 2(c) states that, “the purported newly elected members of the ABC NEC shall be interdicted from assuming the administration of the party pending finalisation (of the application).”
Justice Mahase further ordered the lawyers for both sides to submit all the necessary documents pertaining to the application to the court today ahead of the hearing of the case tomorrow.
“I order that counsel should prepare, file and exchange all of their pleadings and written submissions during the course of the day on Thursday the 14th,” Justice Mahase ordered.
Justice Mahase’s decision to hold yesterday’s proceedings in chambers did not go down well with the scores of ABC supporters who had packed Courtroom 9 hoping to follow the case.
“We do not understand why the matter was heard in chambers because now we don’t know how she arrived at the decisions that she made as we never heard the arguments,” one of the ABC supporters said.