Mahao, allies wait on High Court
THE High Court has postponed to 30 September 2019 a case in which All Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao and his key allies are challenging their “expulsions” from the party by Thomas Thabane.
Judge Tšeliso Monapathi last week issued an interim order nullifying the 17 June 2019 “expulsions” of Prof Mahao, Lebohang Hlaele (secretary general), Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), Montoeli Masoetsa (spokesperson) and his deputy, Matebatso Doti. The interim order also nullified Dr Thabane’s purported replacements to these positions, among other things.
The interim order was supposed to last until 11 September 2019 when the judge would hear arguments before issuing a final ruling in the matter.
However, Justice Monapathi yesterday postponed the case to 30 September 2019 and extended the interim order nullifying the expulsions to the same date. This after Dr Thabane’s lawyer, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, asked for the postponement to allow them time to prepare their opposition.
Dr Thabane’s lawyers were not in court when the interim order reinstating the quintet was issued last Wednesday. Adv Sepiriti said they were absent because they had not been informed of the matter.
“The applicants filed their notice of motion (to challenge their “expulsions”) on 20 August 2019 but they never notified us that they would be moving their application on 4 September 2019,” Adv Sepiriti said, requesting that the matter be postponed to 30 September 2019.
Adv Koili Ndebele, for Prof Mahao and allies, rejected that argument saying Adv Sepiriti’s colleague, Adv Rethabile Setlojoane, had been fully aware of the intention to move the application on 4 September 2019.
“On 28 August 2019 when we appeared before this court, Adv Setlojoane was present when we mentioned that we intend to move our application on 4 September 2019. They (respondents) therefore knew about our intention to move the application,” Adv Ndebele said.
Justice Monapathi weighed in on the issue, saying Dr Thabane’s lawyers were to blame for being absent but the judge nevertheless granted the postponement. He also ordered both parties to “file their heads of argument before that date”.
The respondents are Dr Thabane, the ABC, the ABC’s NEC, Dr Moeketsi Majoro (who was appointed last month by Dr Thabane to replace Prof Mahao), Kemiso Mosenene (who was appointed chairperson in place of Mr Rapapa), Sentle Rabale (who was appointed spokesperson in place of Mr Masoetsa) and Joel Mohale who was appointed deputy spokesperson in place of Ms Doti. Dr Thabane had made the four appointments with effect from 9 August 2019. He had not immediately filled the post of secretary general made “vacant” by the “expulsion” of Mr Hlalele promising to do so in due course. The judgment issued last Wednesday effectively nullified the appointments, for now, as Judge Monapathi interdicted Dr Thabane from instructing any member of the ABC to discharge functions of the offices held by Prof Mahao and his allies.
Prof Mahao and his four allies were elected into the party’s NEC at the ABC’s February 2019 elective conference in Maseru but their victory was rejected by Dr Thabane and his allies resulting in a war of attrition still playing out in the courts.
Justice Monapathi said he hoped the finalisation of the “expulsions” case would “bring lasting peace within the ABC”.
Prof Mahao’s camp has since announced the suspension of Dr Thabane from the party for six years with the former “taking-over” the leadership of the party.