Court to rule on Co-op Lesotho dispute 

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High Court Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane
High Court Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane will on 26 August 2016 deliver judgment in a case in which the Cooperative Lesotho Limited (Co-op Lesotho) Board of Directors wants to interdict the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing from interfering in the organisation’s operations.

The High Court on Monday this week heard the Board’s application in which it sought a directive blocking Minister Thabiso Litšiba, Principal Secretary Motseki Mofammere and Cooperatives Commissioner ’Maphamoli Lekoetje from “unlawful interference with its administration, management and day-to-day operations, therefore undermining its juristic personality”.

The Board wants the court to cancel the “purported instruction” issued by Mr Litšiba directing Co-op Lesotho Manager Thabo Shale “to desist from taking instructions from the so-called Board of Directors”.

The Board further wants the court to nullify the “purported instruction” issued by Mr Litšiba that Mr Shale should handover Co-op Lesotho business documents to the office of Dr Mofammere.

It also wants the court to cancel Mr Litšiba’s “purported instruction” that all dismissed Co-op Lesotho employees be reinstated and those suspended be cleared.

The Board again wants the court to cancel Ms Lekoetje’s “purported instruction” directing all Co-op Lesotho tenants to pay rentals at Boliba Credit and Savings Account.

It also wants the court to nullify “purported instruction” by Ms Lekoetje directing a security company engaged by the Board to withdraw its services, “because the applicant has its own security officer”.

The Board’s lawyer, Advocate Motsamai Tlapana, submitted before the court that the said instructions “are a manifest interference of the corporate personality of the applicant and a deliberate intention to thwart the day-to-day operations of the applicant”.

But Mr Litšiba, Dr Mofammere, Ms Lekoetje and Attorney-General Tšokolo Makhethe, who are cited as first to fourth respondents respectively in the matter, have shot down the Board’s application, arguing its chairperson, Mr Lefokotsa Seeisa, has no authority to act on Co-op Lesotho’s behalf.

They also argue the application was ill-conceived since the organisation was in the process of winding up its operations with a forensic report into its alleged mismanagement being compiled.

The respondents accuse Mr Shale “and his group,” including Mr Seeisa, of lodging the application “as a ruse to thwart the winding up process”.

Meanwhile, Co-op Lesotho employees namely ’Mamaeketsa Molefi, Tieho Mohapi, Thabo Selapane, Lebohang Masupha, ’Mapalesa Pasane, Katiso Mohloai-Seola and ’Malebohang Rapase, who filed a joint-application siding with the respondents, argue Ms Lekoetje was within her rights to interfere in Co-op Lesotho’s affairs.

They also argue the Board’s application had the potential of prejudicing them since they had been served with “unlawful” letters of dismissal.

The employees further say they “remain with no alternative remedy in view of the hovering circumstances set out above, not unless this Honourable Court first determines who is Lefokotsa Seeisa in the context of the decisions he purports to make for and on behalf of Co-op Lesotho, pending the final determination of his application to have the Commissioner of Cooperatives interdicted from executing her statutory functions with regard to the administration and management of Cooperative Lesotho.”

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