- says to challenge Acting Chief Justice’s “fake order”
A DEFIANT Professor Nqosa Mahao says he and his colleagues are not taking Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase’s recent nullification of their election to the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s national executive committee (NEC) lying down.
Prof Mahao said this while addressing a rally in Lepereng, Maseru on Sunday.
Prof Mahao said they have instructed their lawyers to “work tirelessly like geniuses” to ensure that Justice Mahase’s “fake order” is overturned. The outgoing Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho also blasted Justice Mahase for the judgement and her overall conduct which he says has tarnished the reputation of the judiciary under the ABC government. Incidentally, the opposition has also railed at what they view as a judiciary that has been captured by the governing coalition.
Prof Mahao, who clinched the coveted deputy leadership post at the ABC’s 1 and 2 February 2019 elective conference, was dealt a body blow by Justice Mahase who ruled last Wednesday that the results of that conference cannot stand.
The ruling, which has sent shockwaves around the country, was delivered as a default judgement in response to a court application that was filed last week by the unheralded trio of ABC members, Motseki Lefera, ’Matumisang Ntiisa and Martha Makhohlisa.
The old ABC’s NEC and the ABC, who were cited as the first and second respondents respectively, did not oppose the trio’s application, leaving Justice Mahase to issue a default judgement which has escalated tensions in the fractious ruling party and could possibly cause its split.
Prof Mahao and his ‘new NEC’ colleagues have however, vowed to challenge what the former calls a fake order by Justice Mahase. Prof Mahao is also livid at the fact that Justice Mahase delivered a verdict in the case which was only brought to her last week ahead of the court challenge that was lodged as an urgent application on 11 February by three ABC legislators, Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe).
Messrs Lehana, Sello and Mohapinyane argued that the February 2019 elective conference results should be nullified on the grounds that its outcome was marred by “vote rigging” but the case has been postponed on several occasions for various reasons including Justice Mahase’s illness. Last Wednesday, Justice Mahase further postponed the case to 14 June, saying she was not physically fit to preside over it.
And on Sunday, Prof Mahao addressed a rally in Lepereng in Maseru where he told party supporters that he and his colleagues had instructed their lawyers to “work tirelessly like geniuses” to ensure that Justice Mahase’s “fake order” is overturned.
“In English this (Justice Mahase’s Wednesday verdict) is called an irregularity and for that reason we have instructed our lawyers to work tirelessly and they should ensure the dismissal of that case to the bushes where it belongs.
“I know that it (dismissal of Justice Mahase’s Wednesday judgement) is going to happen and I want to assure you ABC members that this will happen,” Prof Mahao said.
He alleged that Justice Mahase was not her own person and she was being “used” by some people to push their own agenda.
“Justice Mahase is evidently stressed and this is purely because she is being used. She does things she does not approve of and that is eating her up. I feel sorry for her because she is being made to do things that she does not approve of,” Prof Mahao said.
“The question that goes to Mme ‘Maseforo is: “who elected these men (to the ABC’s old NEC) if there is no clause in the ABC constitution NEC elections”?”
Prof Mahao said it was also mind-boggling that the Acting Chief Justice prioritised a case which was only brought before her last week while postponing the urgent application by the trio of Messrs Lehana, Sello and Mohapinyane which has been before her since 11 February.
“So, she (Justice Mahase) decided to prioritise a case that was not urgent over an urgent one. She even chose to hear the (Lefera, Ntiisa and Makhohlisa) case in chambers and not in open court room,” Prof Mahao said, adding that Justice Mahase aggravated the situation through her failure to ensure they were also served with papers pertaining to last week’s case.
He said Justice Mahase’s actions had tarnished the reputation of the Chief Justice and the judiciary as a whole under the ABC government.
He also said that he raised his concerns about Justice Mahase’s conduct in his recent meeting with the ABC leader and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane.
He said Dr Thabane asked him on three occasions to repeat the name of this judge who had allegedly tarnished the image of the judiciary and he repeated Justice Mahase’s name three times.
“I told him (Dr Thabane) that the judiciary’s credibility has been eroded under the ABC government. Dr Thabane asked me three times for the name of that judge (responsible for tainting the judiciary’s image) and I said she is Mme ’Maseforo.”
Besides Prof Mahao, Justice Mahase’s latest judgment has earned her more flak from critics who accuse her of having jettisoned her constitutional role to dispense impartial justice in favour of furthering the interests of a faction of a political party.
A fortnight ago, some ABC supporters took the unprecedented step of joining forces to stage a protest march against the Acting Chief Justice for allegedly allowing herself to be a willing tool in the government’s quest to undermine the operations of the judiciary.
But the judge hit back at the protesters last Wednesday. She said the protestors who coalesced under the banner of the Voice of the Voiceless Association (VOVA), had insulted her and the entire judiciary and she would soon seek advice on what course of action to take against them.