COURT of Appeal President Kananelo Mosito has been appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) with effect from January 2020.
NUL Council chairperson Tseko Bohloa said Prof Mosito was appointed to the top post after meeting the country’s premier learning institution’s requirements. It remains to be seen how Prime Minister Thomas Thabane will react to the appointment which comes barely three weeks after the premier launched his third bid to oust Justice Mosito from the Court of Appeal. Justice Mosito is currently employed as the Dean of Law at NUL.
In his 14 August 2019 letter to Justice Mosito, Dr Thabane states that the former’s employment at the NUL whilst he remained president of the Court of Appeal constitutes an act of misconduct that compromised his (Justice Mosito’s) independence, integrity and competency as a judge.
As a result, Dr Thabane said he would advise His Majesty to suspend and impeach Justice Mosito. Dr Thabane has only been prevented from ousting Justice Mosito by an interim Constitutional Court order barring him from suspending and impeaching Justice Mosito pending the finalisation of the Law Society of Lesotho’s High Court application against the intended move.
On his part, Mr Bohloa said they were aware of the “noise” around Justice Mosito’s employment as dean at the university and after his latest appointment, they would engage Justice Mosito “to see how best that noise can be managed to make sure that it does not affect his work at the university”.
Justice Mosito, who is also a professor, outshone two other candidates, Professors Motlatsi Ramollo (now deceased) and George Mosotho to land the post of Pro-Vice Chancellor.
Mr Bohloa yesterday told the Lesotho Times that “the NUL council, in its sitting today (yesterday) approved a recommendation by a Joint Committee of the Council and Senate that Prof Mosito be appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor”.
Mr Bohloa however, said that Justice Mosito would assume his new post at the university in January 2020 because the Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Manthoto Lephoto, remains the substantive Pro-Vice Chancellor until the end of the year.
Mr Bohloa said Justice Mosito was appointed to the top post because he met all the requirements after coming out tops in the oral interview, psychometric tests and oral presentations.
The NUL Council chairperson said Justice Mosito was also the right person for the job due to his academic expertise, good leadership skills and ability to manage academic programmes.
He said Justice Mosito’s experience as a NUL Dean of Faculty of Law also worked in his favour.
“We also looked into the candidates’ backgrounds. He (Justice Mosito) and the other shortlisted candidates did well,” Mr Bohloa said.
He said NUL council was aware of Justice Mosito’s current struggles with Dr Thabane who wanted him (Justice Mosito) removed from the Court of Appeal for refusing to relinquish his current job at the NUL.
“You need to understand that Prof Mosito met all the NUL criteria (for the pro-vice chancellor’s post), 100 percent. We hear that noise (about Justice Mosito’s battle with Dr Thabane) and we will talk to him (Justice Mosito) to see how best that noise can be managed to make sure that it does not affect his work at the university.
“He is the Dean of Law at the university and the same way he was engaged in that position is the same way he is expected to conduct his business as second in line in terms of the NUL leadership,” Mr Bohloa said.
Eleven candidates applied for the post job and Professors Mosito, Ramollo and George were shortlisted.
The late Prof Ramollo was a dean in the NUL Faculty of Science and Technology from November 2016 until 31 July 2019 when he died at the Rose Park Hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Prof George is employed in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Technology at NUL.
Justice Mosito holds a diploma in law, Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from NUL. He also holds a Master of Laws (LLM) from Edinburgh and a Doctor of Laws (PhD) from the University of Cape Town.
He is also a senior law lecturer at NUL where he teaches labour law, law of business associations and practical legal training. He also teaches Accounting for Lawyers. He is also member of the NUL Council and Senate. He has also been a member of the Law Society since 1992.
His employment ties with NUL have however, strained his relations with Dr Thabane who now wants him removed from the Court of Appeal.
In a letter to Justice Mosito dated 14 August 2019, Dr Thabane states that the top judge’s continued employment at the NUL is an act of misconduct that compromises Justice Mosito’s independence, integrity and competency as a judge.
This follows two failed bids by the premier to oust Justice Mosito. The latest bid to kick out Justice Mosito is premised on the first bid which Dr Thabane launched on 12 June this year when he wrote to Justice Mosito giving him a seven day ultimatum to choose between his post at the apex court and his post as lecturer in the Law Faculty at the NUL.
Dr Thabane subsequently launched a second bid to oust Justice Mosito with a 5 July 2019 letter demanding that the top judge “show cause” why he should not be suspended and impeached for allegedly interfering with the administrative functions of the Acting Chief Justice, ’Maseforo Mahase.
Justice Mosito is said to have interfered by entertaining an appeal by the Professor Nqosa Mahao-led faction of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) against Justice Mahase’s alleged tardiness in hearing and delivering judgement in a case in which Prof Mahao and others’ election into the ABC’s national executive committee (NEC) was challenged by three of ABC legislators, Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung constituency), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe).
The trio approached the High Court on 11 February seeking the nullification of the election of Prof Mahao and others, claiming the 1-2 February polls were marred by gross irregularities including “massive vote rigging”.
Exasperated by the frequent postponements of the case by Justice Mahase on the grounds that she was ill, the Mahao camp appealed to the apex court who, on 24 May 2019, ordered that the case be heard by any other High Court judge (s) besides Justice Mahase.
The Mahao faction went on to win the case after the High Court bench comprising of Justices Thamsanqa Nomngcongo (presiding judge), Moroke Mokhesi and Sakoane Sakoane dismissed Messrs Lehana, Sello and Mohapinyane’s application, ruling that the alleged vote rigging would not have changed the outcome of the elections.
Justice Mahase did not take kindly to the apex court’s decision to have the Lehana, Sello and Mohapinyane application dealt with by other judges and she subsequently wrote a scathing letter to justice Mahase on 27 May. In that letter she accused Justice Mosito of interfering with her administrative powers at the High Court.
She also suggested that Justice Mosito was an interested party in the case that involved Prof Mahao as the latter was his (Justice Mosito’s) boss at the National University of Lesotho (NUL). Prof Mahao was until 31 May this year, the Vice Chancellor at NUL where Justice Mosito has been lecturing.
And on 5 July 2019, Dr Thabane seized on Justice Mahase’s letter of complaint and served Justice Mosito with a letter demanding that he “show cause” why he should not be suspended to pave way for investigations to determine whether or not he is suitable to remain as president of the apex court.
But Dr Thabane’s bid to oust Justice Mosito on the basis of Justice Mahase’s letter of complaint fell through on 24 July 2019 when Dr Thabane and Justice Mahase were both forced into an out of court settlement with Prof Mahao and his allies that led to the withdrawal of their letters to Justice Mosito. This after Prof Mahao and his allies had filed an application in the Court of Appeal to stop the impeachment of Justice Mosito on the basis of the 5 July 2019 “show cause” letter by Dr Thabane.
The out of court settlement was further buttressed by an apex court ruling that Dr Thabane could not impeach Justice Mosito on the basis of the 5 July 2019 “show cause” letter. The apex court ruling was delivered on 7 August 2019.
But barely two weeks later on 14 August, Dr Thabane renewed his bid to oust Justice Mosito on the basis of the latter’s continued employment at the NUL in violation of his (Dr Thabane’s) 12 June 2019 instruction to Justice Mosito to resign from the university.