THE High Court has scheduled 15 to 18 August 2017 as the dates of hearing a case in which the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) seeks the nullification of the 3 June 2017 elections results for two constituencies.
The new dates were set on Tuesday after a panel of three High Court judges postponed the case on 19 July 2017 to give the LCD time to consider whether to pursue their case as is, take another route or even withdraw the case altogether.
The LCD, which was part of the former seven-party governing alliance, had initially challenged the outcome of the elections in four constituencies but later withdrew its claim to two constituencies.
The party had also offered to pay the costs of suit to the respondents in respect to the two constituencies they had withdrawn the challenge.
When the court reconvened on Tuesday, it earmarked four consecutive days as the dates of hearing after the LCD maintained it wanted to proceed with the case for the two constituencies.
The election petition had been filed by the LCD and its Deputy Secretary-General Mpiti Mosiuoa before the High Court on 6 July 2017 challenging the legitimacy of the elections in four constituencies namely, Matlakeng #10, Matsieng #45, Mphosong #7 and Thaba-Phatšoa #8.
Mr Mosiuoa contested under the LCD banner in Tšoanamakhulo #25 constituency and lost to the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
ABC legislators for the constituencies, Moshe Leoma, ‘Matšepo Ramakoae, Libe George Motšoane and Mahala Molapo had been cited as fourth to seventh respondents respectively in the application.
Other respondents were the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Attorney-General (AG) Tšokolo Makhethe and the ABC as first, second and third respondents respectively.
In the petition, the LCD alleged some procedural flaws and irregularities ahead and during the elections.
However, the LCD and Mr Mosiuoa withdrew their challenge for Matsieng and Mphosong constituencies as well as AG Makhethe as one of the respondents.
During the argument between the opposing sides’ lawyers, the respondents argued that the case should be dismissed for lack of standing.
Lawyers for the IEC and the ABC raised a question of law that the High Court, which sat as a court of disputed returns, had no powers to preside over a complaint about the voters’ registration process.
They also argued that the LCD could only lodge the case before the court if illegal practices had occurred and not about elections procedures.
On the allegation of voting registration flaws, lawyers for the IEC and the ABC argued that the complainants could have raised an objection to the IEC’s tribunal. They averred that the party could then take the matter up with the High Court only if they were not satisfied with the tribunal’s ruling.
For their part, the LCD and Mr Mosiuoa — through their lawyer Advocate Poulo ‘Nono – insisted that they used the proper channels in lodging their complaint.
The case is before a panel of three judges namely; Justices ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane, Molefi Makara and Sakoane Sakoane.