Fired mayor vows to fight back

MASERU — Former Maseru city council mayor, ‘Malijane Morahanye, is planning to sue the city council for unlawful dismissal, the Lesotho Times has learnt.

Morahanye was ousted as mayor last February for bringing the reputation of the council into disrepute.

The council accused Morahanye of discussing the council’s financial issues in the media after she gave an interview to a local weekly, Public Eye.

The council said Morahanye had brought the council’s name into disrepute and called the mayor to a disciplinary hearing.

Morahanye however refused to attend the hearing.

She instead approached the High Court to stop the council from ejecting her from her post.

Last February the High Court ruled that Morahanye had approached the court prematurely and dismissed her application for an interdict against the councillors.

The court said the council’s decision upon which her application hinged had not been made.

After Morahanye lost the case in February the council elected Ranteli Lekoane as the city’s new mayor.

Sources said Morahanye was this week preparing court papers to challenge her ouster at the High Court next week.

Morahanye is arguing that her ouster from the mayoral seat was malicious as it revolved around the interview she gave to the Public Eye newspaper.

Last year Morahanye argued in her affidavits that she was exercising her constitutional right to freedom of speech when she gave the interview.

She said as mayor she had a right to keep the public informed about council matters.

Efforts to get comment from the former mayor failed yesterday.

Lekoane said the council was right to dismiss Morahanye for violating council’s rules and regulations.

 “She went out to speak to the Public Eye without the council’s knowledge and in the process she put the council’s image into disrepute.

“The law clearly stipulates what measures should be taken against a mayor who violates the law. The council did exactly what it was expected of it,” said Lekoane.

Lekoane said mayors do not have absolute powers to overrule councillors.

He said it was wrong for Morahanye to speak about issues that had not been dealt with in council.

“The fact that one is a mayor does not give that particular person absolute powers,” Lekoane said.

Lekoane is expected to remain in office until the next local government elections sometime next year.

Lekoane was elected councillor in 2005 representing Lithabaneng constituency.

The ousted Morahanye remains a councillor for Mabote constituency.

Morahanye’s ouster last February suggests that there is a serious power struggle within the council ahead of local government elections scheduled for next year.

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