LCD cries foul over court challenge

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LCD Spokesperson Teboho Sekata
LCD Spokesperson Teboho Sekata

. . . accuses civil society groups of suing King Letsie III

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has accused civil society organisations, and by extension the opposition bloc, of double standards for not expressing outrage over a court application that cites King Letsie III among the respondents.

This was after Development for Peace Education (DPE) and Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) filed an application before the High Court’s Constitutional Division last week, challenging the legality of the Human Rights Commission Act No. 2 of 2016.

The civil society groups cite National Assembly Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai; Senate President Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso; National Assembly Clerk King’s Counsel (KC) Fine Maema; Law, Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letšosa; Senate; National Assembly; National Assembly Portfolio Committee on Law and Public Safety; King Letsie III and Attorney-General Tšokolo Makhethe KC as first to ninth respondents, respectively.

According to LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata, the All Basotho Convention, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho railed against Mr Makhethe KC for “suing the King” in a case in which the attorney-general wanted the Constitutional Court to nullify the appointment of now suspended Court of Appeal President, Justice Kananelo Mosito.

His Majesty was among the respondents in the case which Mr Makhethe KC subsequently lost.

Mr Sekata said the three parties used the case to gain political mileage ahead of the 28 February 2015 snap polls by alleging the LCD supported Mr Makhethe KC’s court application which “disrespected” King Letsie III.

“When they (opposition parties) were in government, the attorney-general challenged the appointment of Dr Kananelo Mosito KC as president of the Court of Appeal,” he said.

“They went ballistic with that issue and even asked the electorate not to vote for our party as we were allegedly disrespectful. Since their campaign was convincing, the electorate did not vote for us, and we ended up with two elected seats in parliament from the previous 12.”

Mr Sekata alleged DPE and TRC were an extension of the opposition and making the application on the latter’s behalf.

“It is very surprising that the very same people who are now in the opposition have come up with a similar approach of suing His Majesty. This is the same King they convinced the nation shouldn’t be sued. Now, they are suing him and have even attached a founding affidavit of Thaba Bosiu Chief Khoabane Theko,” he said.

“How convenient! They even claimed the congress movement loathes monarchy and yet history tells us from as early as 1967 that nationalists never liked the monarchy.”

Mr Sekata added: “We are not kids and they shouldn’t insult our intelligence. They can’t run away from the fact that they are suing His Majesty.”

He said civil society groups and the opposition should “apologise” to the electorate for “feeding them lies” about court processes.

“We expect to see these organisations and their patrons going around the country to apologise for feeding the electorate lies when they claimed the King cannot be sued.”

However TRC Director Tšoeu Petlane scoffed at Mr Sekata’s allegations, saying they cited King Letsie III in His official capacity as the one responsible for assenting to bills from parliament.

“It would defy logic if we were to cite all the other parties and leave out His Majesty. Otherwise, our application would be wrongly framed and not see the light of day in court,” said Mr Petlane.

“It should, however, be clear that TRC never campaigned against LCD at any point in time, and for them to expect that we will go around the country and apologise is preposterous.

“Lesotho is a democratic state and everyone has rights. So Sekata’s expectations are unlikely to materialise.”

He said the LCD spokesperson should reveal the evidence of TRC’s campaign against the party.

“Unless he quotes a day and time when TRC acted in such a manner, then he has no basis,” Mr Petlane added.

For his part, DPE’s Peace Education Researcher Lemohang Molibeli said he was not going to comment on the matter.

“We have been advised not to elaborate on this matter as it is still premature to comment,” he said.

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