THE Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, has apologised to the Chief Justice, Nthomeng Majara, for the “discomfort” the latter experienced after the release of a government notice informing the public that the government was in advanced talks over her exit from the judiciary.
Mr Mphaka last week confirmed the authenticity of the notice from his office concerning the Chief Justice.
In the notice concerning Justice Majara, Mr Mphaka’s office wrote that; “The public is reminded that the Chief Justice is still in peaceful talks with the government pertaining to her exit and the talks are at quite an advanced stage, soon to be wrapped up”.
“You are therefore implored to be patient as these issues are being treated with cautiousness,” the notice concludes.
The notice also mentions the government’s efforts in addressing the huge backlog of cases before the High Court and the Court of Appeal. It proposes remedial measures which include the appointment of international judges to mitigate staff shortages on the bench.
The notice infuriated Ms Majara who immediately hit back at the GS saying there was no way she could be said to be involved in any peaceful talks when she has been the subject of spirited sniping by government officials and politicians. She effectively accused Mr Mphaka of telling lies on various issues.
And it has since emerged that Mr Mphaka wrote to Ms Majara to “apologise for the misunderstanding that caused your discomfort on all issues that we discussed and agreed upon”.
“Our understanding was that there is harmony between yourself and the government towards resolution of all outstanding challenges in the judiciary.”
“I thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation. Please accept Your Ladyship my sincere apology and assurance of my highest regards of you and your office,” concludes the letter dated 27 March 2018.
Justice Majara has endured a frosty relationship with the Thomas Thabane-led coalition government ever since it came to power in the aftermath of the June 2017 snap national elections.
On 9 December 2017 Law and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Lebohang Hlaele, told protestors in Maseru that Justice Majara should either resign or be “impeached for corruption”.
Mr Hlaele alleged that the Chief Justice was “corrupt” and gave her an ultimatum to either resign or face an impeachment tribunal. The Minister charged that Justice Majara should be impeached for “corruptly” renting a house for M27 000 per month from a colleague Justice Teboho Moiloa, a figure “way above” the statutory allocation for her housing allowance.
Mr Hlaele made the remarks soon after receiving a petition from a group of Basotho who had staged a protest to demand the swearing-in of Justice Kananelo Mosito as the Court of Appeal President after his re-appointment in August last year.
The December protest and the subsequent remarks by Mr Hlaele prompted three prominent lawyers; Zwelakhe Mda, Karabo Mohau and attorney Qhalehang Letsika, to lodge an urgent application before the Constitutional Court to block the removal of Justice Majara.
The application was filed last month and is still pending before the courts.