Mohalenyane Phakela / Nat Molomo
THE much-anticipated court application by three All Basotho Convention (ABC) legislators challenging the results of the party’s 1-2 February 2019 elective conference failed to kick off this week due to an interlocutory application (counter-application) regarding the same case.
Three ABC legislators Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) challenged the outcome of the party’s elective conference which ushered in a new ABC national executive committee (NEC) with Professor Nqosa Mahao as the deputy leader of the ABC.
The trio want the court to nullify the outcome of the entire February elections and order fresh polls within three months of their application.
In her 6 March 2019 court order, Acting Chief Justice, ‘Maseforo Mahase gave the old and new ABC’s NEC factions up to 19 March to resolve their differences failing which they would have to return to court on 20 March. Justice Mahase also said that she would hear the case from the 20th of March and deliver judgement on the 29th of March. But on 20th of March the case failed to proceed as one of the respondents’ lawyers, Advocate Ranale Thoahlane called in sick.
It was postponed to the 25th of March and again it failed to proceed on that day due to Justice Mahase’s illness.
And on Tuesday afternoon the case failed to proceed yet again and this time it was after the applicants’ lawyer, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, notified Justice Mahase that he had received a notice of an appeal by one of the defendants, Lebohang Hlaele, whose interlocutory application was dismissed last week by Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo.
Mr Hlaele had brought the application seeking an order to compel the High Court to hear and deliver judgement on the three legislators’ application on 29 March as Justice Mahase had initially said she would.
After the dismissal of his application by Justice Nomngcongo who ruled that the three legislators’ application should be heard on 2 April 2019, Mr Hlaele then filed a notice of appeal in the Court of Appeal against the decision.
It was against this background that on Tuesday, Justice Mahase resolved to postpone the case to 11 April 2019. She said she needed to consult and decide whether or not Mr Hlaele’s counter application interferes with the main application by the ABC trio for the nullification of the results of the ABC’s 1-2 February elective conference which ushered in Mr Hlaele and others into the ABC’s NEC.
Before announcing the postponement, Justice Mahase complained that she had not received Mr Hlaele’s notice of appeal.
“Counsels, I do not know what I am expected to do at this juncture. I do not know whether history is repeating itself because like in the Koro-Koro constituency matter, this court was not served with an intention to appeal even though the Court of Appeal went ahead and dealt with the matter.
“In the normal course of things, the judge against whom the appeal is being made should be served with a notice of appeal. I would rather postpone the matter to confer with my brother (Justice Nomngcongo) about the best way to handle this and further consult the High Court rules about such issues,” Justice Mahase said.
On 1 February, the ABC’s Koro-Koro constituency committee successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal against Justice Mahase’s ruling which had upheld Prof Mahao’s disqualification by the outgoing NEC from contesting the deputy leader’s post at the February elective conference.
Meanwhile, Adv Sepiriti subsequently told this publication that the lawyers for both sides agreed that Mr Hlaele’s interlocutory application should be ignored and the main application challenging the election of the new NEC should proceed on 11 April 2019.
The ABC, the ABC’s NEC, the Lesotho Council of Non-governmental Organisations (LCN), Prof Mahao, Mr Hlaele and other candidates in the ABC polls are cited as the first to 44th respondents in the lawsuit. The LCN are cited in their capacity as the organisation that ran the polls on behalf of the ABC and announced the new NEC line-up.