EMBATTLED All Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao and four others’ High Court application challenging their “expulsion” from the ABC once again failed to take off on Tuesday, this time due to the ill-health of Dr Thabane’s lawyer, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane.
One of the applicants’ lawyers, Advocate ‘Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, told the Lesotho Times that as a result of Adv Setlojoane’s illness, the applicants and respondents’ lawyers will no longer argue their clients’ case and the judges will make a decision on the basis of both sides’ heads of argument that have already been filed in court.
“Adv Setlojoane is not feeling well so we reached an agreement that the judges should make their judgement on the basis of our heads of argument and they will call us back when the judgement is ready,” Adv Hlaele said.
Prof Mahao was “expelled” on 17 June 2019 from the ABC by Dr Thabane along with fellow national executive committee (NEC) members, Lebohang Hlaele (secretary general), Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and his deputy Matebatso Doti.
The quintet were “expelled” for alleged insubordination after they convened and addressed rallies in apparent defiance of Dr Thabane’s orders for them not to do so.
They subsequently launched a High Court bid to have their “expulsion” nullified as well as to have Dr Thabane interdicted from making any major party decisions on his own without the involvement of the NEC.
The application was initially supposed to be heard on 26 June 2019 by the High Court bench comprising of presiding judge Thamsanqa Nomngcongo and Justices Sakoane Sakoane and Moroke Mokhesi.
The case did not proceed after Justice Sakoane stated that the presiding judge Nomngcongo had been taken ill.
Again on 22 July the case failed to proceed as Justice Nomngcongo was still unwell. Justice Nomngcongo made an appearance in court that day and looked visibly ill with a swollen face.
“I am not feeling well and as you can see, this is not the face that I normally carry,” Justice Nomngcongo said. He then directed Justice Sakoane to give the instructions pertaining to Prof Mahao and others’ application.
Justice Sakoane then postponed the case to 30 July 2019 in the hope that by that date, Justice Nomngcongo would have recovered to preside.
However, on Tuesday, Prof Mahao, Mr Rapapa and other ABC members waited in vain for the case to be heard in open court. They eventually left after their lawyers told them that an agreement had been reached for the judges to deliver a verdict after going through both sides’ heads of arguments.
The applicants also want Dr Thabane to be held in contempt of court for his failure to recognise them as the legitimate NEC as per the High Court Judgement of 12 June 2019.
“The decision of the first respondent (Dr Thabane) taken on 17 June 2019 expelling the applicants as members of the ABC (must) be set aside as null and void. The first respondent (Dr Thabane) as the leader of the second respondent (the ABC) does not have the power to expel any member of the ABC without ratification by third respondent (ABC’s NEC).
“The first respondent (Dr Thabane) be interdicted from making unilateral decisions and interfering with the affairs of the second respondent (ABC) without involvement of the full contingent of the third respondent (ABC’s NEC).
“The first respondent (should) be found guilty of contempt of an order of court dated 12 June 2019. In the event the court finds the first respondent guilty of contempt, he shall be ordered to purge his contempt, failing which he be committed to jail for a period determined by the court,” the applicants state in their court papers.
Meanwhile, another ABC case where Dr Thabane and Ms Kabi are seeking an order confirming the expulsion of Prof Mahao, Ms Doti, Messrs Rapapa, Hlaele and Masoetsa from the ABC, also failed to take off on Monday before Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase.
One of the Mahao faction’s lawyers, Advocate Khotso Nthontho, the matter was postponed to 5 August to allow Dr Thabane’s lawyer, Adv Setlojoane, to file the replying affidavit on behalf of his client.