THE High Court brought to an end a long-running Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) leadership battle on Tuesday by ruling in favour of a faction led by the party’s erstwhile deputy leader Mabusetsa Makharilele.
Mr Makharilele had been at loggerheads with now former LPC leader and Social Development Minister Molahlehi Letlotlo over control of the party since 2015.
The LPC’s troubles started when Mr Letlotlo expelled the party’s then secretary-general Moipone Piti and the then publicity secretary Bokang Ramatšella in October 2015.
An October 2015 conference convened by Mr Makharilele’s faction to elect the LPC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) ousted the committee led by Mr Letlotlo.
During the conference, Mr Makharilele – who was then deputy leader – was elected as LPC leader with Mr Ramatšella also elected as the secretary-general of the party.
After Mr Letlotlo’s faction was ousted, the newly-elected NEC wrote a letter to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili urging him to dismiss Mr Letlotlo from the ministerial post.
However, Mr Letlotlo and his faction challenged the conference’s outcomes in the High Court with an application seeking an order nullifying the new NEC.
Dr Mosisili did not act on the LPC NEC’s request as Mr Letlotlo’s faction had filed the court challenge.
Mr Letlotlo’s faction also planned a conference to elect a new committee in November 2015, but Mr Makharilele’s faction obtained an interim order to block the event.
In the interim relief granted on 30 October 2015, Mr Letlotlo, together with five other former NEC members namely Mabala Maqelepo, Maballo Molibeli, ‘Makopano Sekhobo, ‘Maleseli Leseli and Tseko Koantle, were interdicted from holding any special party conference until the application filed before the court had been finalised.
The minister was also interdicted from accessing the LPC’s bank account pending the finalisation of the application.
The case had dragged in the High Court until Tuesday when the court dismissed Mr Letlotlo and his faction’s application.
High Court judge Justice Keketso Moahloli dismissed the claim because Mr Letlotlo’s lawyers were not present in court to prosecute their case which had been set for hearing on Tuesday.
The case was dismissed after Mr Makharilele and his faction’s lawyer, Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, urged the court to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the applicants failed to pursue their case.
Mr Letsika asked the court to dismiss the case on a legal principle known as absolution from the instance — which amounts to an order granted to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim on the basis that no order can be made.