Mahase must go: Mochoboroane

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Staff Reporter

ACTING Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase should not be given the position on a substantive basis but should instead be sent packing on account of her bias for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, opposition Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader Selibe Mochoboroane has demanded.

Mr Mochoboroane said this in the wake of Justice Mahase’s recent controversial judgments involving Professor Nqosa Mahao’s faction of the ABC and which have earned her a lot of flak from the Court of Appeal and a host of other critics.

Justice Mahase first made headlines with her January ruling which upheld the ABC’s disqualification of Prof Mahao from contesting the party’s 1-2 February 2019 elective conference. Her decision was immediately overturned by the Court of Appeal, paving the way for Prof Mahao to contest and beat a strong field of ABC heavyweights to clinch the coveted post of deputy leader.

May was an especially torrid month for Justice Mahase who was on the receiving end of a public protest by ABC supporters after they accused her of bias and dragging her feet in a case in which three ABC legislators wanted the election of Prof Mahao and his allies into the party’s national executive committee (NEC) nullified.

It was also the month in which, in an inexplicable turn of events, Justice Mahase nullified the ABC’s entire elective conference before he had considered the first similar case by the three ABC legislators.

The Court of Appeal rescinded Justice Mahase’s judgement nullifying the elective conference and giving control of the ABC to the old NEC.

The apex court then referred back the case launched by the three legislators – Habofanoe Lehana (Khafung), Keketso Sello (Hlotse) and Mohapi Mohapinyane (Rothe) to the High Court and ordered that it not be heard by Justice Mahase, ostensibly because of her obvious bias against Prof Mahao.

Despite the trio filing the court application on 11 February 2019 on an urgent basis, Justice Mahase had sat on it, claiming illness, but then appearing to hear a similar case brought much later  by the little-known trio of ABC members, Motseki Lefera, ’Matumisang Ntiisa and Martha Makhohlisa.

Before hearing and passing judgment in the first case, due to her “poor health”, Justice Mahase emerged in her chambers to nullify the ABC’s elective conference as per the prayers of the trio of Lefera, Ntiisa and Makhohlisa.

She ruled the old NEC should remain in office in an interim capacity for a year and use the time to amend the ABC constitution to provide for the holding of NEC elections.

Dissatisfied with what he condemned as a “fake judgement”, Prof Mahao and his faction lodged an appeal with the apex court for the rescission of Justice Mahase’ ruling and their application was granted.

And this week, Mr Mochoboroane added to the chorus of criticism of Justice Mahase, saying she should not be allowed to remain on the bench on account of her alleged partisanship and bias in favour of Dr Thabane.

“The acting chief justice’s allegiance is to the prime minister and she does everything in her power to ensure that things go well for the premier. And although one cannot prove that she has an ABC party card, her husband is a member of the ABC.

“He is very closely connected with the members of the ABC. When her husband (Thabiso Mahase) was arrested along with her son (Teboho) in Mafeteng (in December 2017) over allegations of stealing M3, 6 million (worth of pensioners’ allowances), ABC ministers went to Mafeteng Police Station demanding that they be released. So it is quite clear that there is a relationship between the Acting Chief Justice and the ABC.

“On the other hand there is also speculation that Ntate (appeal court president Justice Kananelo) Mosito, who is a lecturer at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) could be having a close relationship with Ntate Mahao who was the Vice Chancellor. But when it comes to the Court of Appeal, one would say it has been transparent. We have seen foreign judges being engaged to handle cases professionally but when you look at the office of the acting chief justice, you will see it is a mess.

“Our acting chief justice should be relieved of her duties. She should be given her exit package and she should go home. The way that she has handled issues requires that the government buys her out and she leaves office…,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

 

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