Court orders minister to recognise healers’ council

MASERU — The High Court has ordered Health Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng to recognise and confirm the new traditional healers’ council which was elected in January.

The Lesotho Universal Medicinemen and Herbalist Council dragged the minister to court in March after she allegedly refused to recognise the newly elected council.

The minister argued that there were no regulations in place to guide the operations of the medicines council.

The 12 members of the newly elected council were the applicants in the case.

They were elected following the end of the previous council’s term in 2009.

Under the Lesotho Universal Medicinemen and Herbalist Act of 1978 the minister was expected to confirm the council.

The traditional healers wanted the court to compel Ramatlapeng to accept and confirm the new council.

They said the court should order a “mandamus on the first respondent (Ramatlapeng) to accept the first to 12th applicants as duly elected members of council and issue letters of confirmation and appointment accordingly in accordance with section 2(2) of the Lesotho Universal Medicinemen and Herbalist Council Act 1978.”

They also sought an order setting aside the instructions of the minister “which purports to interdict the first to the 12th applicants from operating as duly elected members” of the council.

High Court judge Ts’eliso Monaphathi last Thursday ruled in their favour and ordered Ramatlapeng to accept and confirm the new council.

“Even if I am (in my reasons) in deciding that the minister is to recognise the present council in the absence of regulations (in terms of the said section 10) or even if the minister would still be entitled to appoint a council in the absence of the said regulations, in the circumstances of this case i.e which a council has already been elected, the minister is acting unfairly if she shuts out a council or this council which has already been elected even in terms of its own constitution,” Justice Monaphathi said.

Justice Monaphathi said he believed the traditional healers’ association would suffer if the minister did not recognise the council.

“It is demonstrable that the association will suffer by reason of the minister’s conduct, more especially because a council has been elected as it is common cause.

“It is also demonstrable that over the years the association expected that these councils would be recognised and it legitimately so expected,” he said.

The judge said he was aware that the minister was notified of the election before it happened.

“Most facts were common cause including that: on or about the 25th January 2010, the 13 applicants’ executive council wrote to the first respondent (Ramatlapeng) informing her that the 13 applicants’ council planned to hold a general meeting in terms of its constitution, to hold a new council.

“On the 27th January 2010 the council was accordingly elected and the names of the office bearers were forwarded to the minister,” Monaphathi said.

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