ABC expulsions case drags on

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Mohalenyane Phakela

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao and his allies’ long wait for the hearing of their application for the nullification of their “expulsions” by party leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane continues.

This is because High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monapathi, has to first rule on application by Dr Thabane’s lawyers to file more affidavits to support of their application for the rescission of Justice Monapathi’s interim order blocking the “expulsions” of the Mahao faction from the ABC.

The judge issued the interim order blocking the “expulsions” on 4 September 2019. Justice Monapathi will only make the ruling on the admissibility of the affidavits on 8 November 2019.But before the main case dealing with the merits of the expulsions is heard, Justice Monapathi will still have to hear another application by Dr Thabane’s lawyers for the rescission of his interim order blocking the “expulsions” of the Mahao faction from the ABC.

Yesterday Justice Monapathi reserved ruling on whether or not Dr Thabane’s lawyers can file more affidavits to 8 November 2019.

Justice Monapathi reserved judgement after hearing arguments from Dr Thabane’s lawyers, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane, and Prof Mahao’s lawyer, Advocate Mabatṧoeneng Hlaele.

Adv Setlojoane pleaded with the court to allow them to file more affidavits to address the issue of letters from ABC constituency committees which called the party’s 6 July 2019 special conference. The conference did not proceed on that date after Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase granted Dr Thabane an interim order to stop it on 4 July 2019.

The letters were produced by Prof Mahao and his allies to buttress their argument that they were not the ones who called the conference. They argue that the special conference was called by the constituency committees.

Advocate Setlojoane argued that his clients did not consider the letters to be genuine because they were served on Mr Lebohang Hlaele who had already been “expelled” from the post of secretary general and from the ABC by Dr Thabane on 17 June 2019.

“My clients say that they letters were fake because they were served on the expelled individual while Mr (Nkaku) Kabi, who remains in office as the deputy secretary general, never received such letters,” Adv Setlojoane submitted.

“The letters were addressed to Mr Hlaele after he was expelled. They do not even bear the party’s stamp to show receipt because Mr Hlaele was not in office. It was only upon perusal of the replying papers that Mr Kabi became aware of such letters.

“We need to file more affidavits to address the said letters. If they were revealed as part of their founding papers, we would have addressed them as part of our answering papers,” argued Adv Setlojoane.

Adv Hlaele argued that more affidavits would only waste the court’s time which should rather be spent in hearing the main case on their “expulsions” from the ABC.

“He (Adv Setlojoane) says letters are fake because they were not received by Mr Kabi but the authenticity of the letters can only be determined by questioning the source and not the recipient.

“This is an urgent application (on the “expulsions”) and the court cannot entertain things which are intended to delay the court from hearing the main application. The said affidavits are not relevant as they will not help the court determine whether the applicants were improperly expelled. The issue of letters has nothing to do with the main application,” Adv Hlaele told the court.

After hearing both sides’ arguments, Justice Monapathi reserved ruling on whether or not Dr Thabane’s lawyers can file more affidavits to 8 November 2019.

Prof Mahao’s co-applicants are fellow ABC’s NEC members; Mr Hlaele, Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and ‘Matebatso Doti (deputy spokesperson).

They are challenging Dr Thabane’s decision to “expel” them from the party on 17 June 2019.

The respondents are Dr Thabane, the ABC, the ABC’s NEC, Dr Moeketsi Majoro (who was appointed in August 2019 by Dr Thabane to replace Prof Mahao), Kemiso Mosenene (who was appointed chairperson in place of Mr Rapapa), Sentle Rabale (who was appointed spokesperson in place of Mr Masoetsa) and Joel Mohale who was appointed deputy spokesperson in place of Ms Doti.

Dr Thabane had made the four appointments with effect from 9 August 2019. He however, did not fill the secretary general’s post made “vacant” by the “expulsion” of Mr Hlalele, saying he would do so in due course.  Yesterday’s postponement of the case and the extension of the interim order, means that the “expulsions” and Dr Thabane’s appointments of Dr Majoro and others remain invalid, at least for now.

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