Former Mayor sues for reinstatement

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‘Marafaele Mohloboli

TWO months after her ouster, former Maseru Mayor, ‘Mampho Thabane-Libate, has filed an urgent High Court application for reinstatement.

Ms Thabane-Libate was booted out by fellow councilors after she lost a 19 May 2021 no confidence vote.

Ten out of 19 councillors voted for her ouster for alleged abuse of office, incompetence, misconduct and failure or refusal to implement lawful council decisions. She was replaced by Khubetsoana Councillor, Nthabeleng Ntšasa.

She has now petitioned the High Court to nullify her removal.

The MCC, the Town Clerk, Moeko Maboee, and Mayor Ntšasa are the first to third respondents respectively.

As interim reliefs, Ms Thabane-Libate wants “the resolution of the meeting of the 19th March 2021 to remove me as the Mayor and vote the 3rd Respondent (Ntšasa) into the office of the Mayor of the city of Maseru be declared irregular and therefore of no force and effect pending the outcome of this litigation”.

“The election of the 3rd Respondent be declared null and void on account of irregularity of the processes followed in voting me out of office and voting 3rd Respondent into office of Mayor of the city of Maseru pending the outcome of this litigation,” Ms Thabane-Libate states in her 7 July 2021

“That the Honorable court makes an order that I revert to the status quo ante (previous state of affairs before) the meeting of 19 May 2021 and I resume the office of Mayor pending the outcome of this litigation.

“That the 3rd Respondent (Ntšasa) returns to 1st Respondent (MCC) all benefits unduly paid to her to date for being in an office that she erroneously and irregularly assumed responsibility over,” Ms Thabane-Libate further states.

In terms of final reliefs, she wants the court to reinstate her. She also wants the court and declare her removal and the installation of Mayor Ntšasa of no force and effect.

Her lawyer, Advocate Adolph Boyce Thabane of the Makhoakhoa Chambers, is of the view that their client was erroneously and irregularly booted out of office. In his court papers, Adv Thabane says her contract would have ended on 31 October 2021 had she not been unprocedurally removed from office.

“She (Thabane-Libate) currently suffers prejudice as a result. If the Honorable court does not grant her leave to proceed on an urgent basis, she will suffer irreparable harm as ordinary court processes may be so protracted that her term of office might come to an end before she is granted the relief she is seeking,” Adv Thabane argues.

The 10 councillors who voted for her removal are Mpho Moloi (Maseru Central), Nthabeleng Ntšasa (Khubetsoana), Tlali Lebesa (Thetsane), Thato Khechane (Ha- Leqele), Lebohang Ramathe (Stadium Area), Tholang Sefojane (Motimposo), Thabo Hlehlisi (Lithoteng), Busetsa Khutlisi (Thamae), ‘Mataelo Matsoso (Qoaling) and Hlathe Majara (Khubetsoana).

Ms Thabane-Libate had desperately tried to cling to power and even presented the councillors with a letter from her legal representatives requesting that she be given an additional 14 days to prepare her defence to the allegations levelled against her.

This angered the councillors who booed and heckled her for “bringing an unstamped piece of paper from her relatives to try and stop her removal”.

The unstamped letter dated 18 May was written by Makhoakhoeng Chambers and signed by one Kuena Thabane. It requested a postponement of the meeting whose agenda was the no confidence vote against Ms Thabane-Libate.

“Our client has presented to us a notice of a meeting to be held on 19 May 2021 whose agenda is the removal of the mayor.

“We are further informed that by the client that she only received the notice on 17 May 2021 and she met with us the following day. Given the magnitude of the allegations levelled against her, we humbly request the postponement of the meeting to a date within no less than 14 days of receipt of the notice. This is to allow us to properly consider the matter and be in a position to provide client with due professional help,” the letter stated.

Nevertheless, the councillors went ahead to hold the no confidence vote, saying they would not be dissuaded by the contents of a “family letter” to grant Ms Thabane-Libate reprieve. Ms Thabane is said to be related to former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and the law firm representing is said to have taken its name from the Thabane clan name, Makhoakhoeng Chambers. This probably explains why the councilors derisively referred to the law firm’s letter as family letter.

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