MASERU – Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) leader, Advocate Kelebone Maope, last Thursday called for the setting up of a judicial inspectorate to monitor the work of judges.
Maope, who is also the Member of Parliament for Seqonoka constituency, was testifying to the commission of inquiry set up by the Law Society of Lesotho to probe the state of the judiciary.
The commission was set up to investigate “any possible corrupt, unprofessional, unethical and un-judicial practices that may have crept up into the judicial system.”
Maope told the commission that the judicial inspectorate will not interfere with the work of judges but would ensure that they do their work.
He said the inspectorate should be modelled along the old Ministry of Education school inspectors to maintain standards.
“I would like to know whether on each day the judges are working,” Maope told the commission.
He said the inspectors would, for example, monitor what time magistrates or other judicial officers start work and the number of cases they would deal with per week.
“I think we need such a system now. It is crucial for the commission to concentrate on judges because they are in control,” he said.
Maope said members of the legal profession and institutions such as the faculty of law at the National University of Lesotho should make their input regarding the composition of the Judicial Service Commission.
Maope, who took part in the drafting of the present constitution in 1993, said most of the problems haunting the judiciary had remained unresolved for too long.
“Some of these problems have been there for a long time, they should have been tackled, and I think now they are worse,” Maope told the commission.
He also took a swipe at the calibre of judges at the High Court.
“There is some doubt about the intellectual capability of some of our judges. I am able to say this because I look at errors in judgments taken to the Court of Appeal,” he said.
The LPC leader said he was not also happy with the work of High Court judges that has resulted in a huge backlog of cases at the High Court.
“This is new at the High Court because in the 1970s, there were not so many (pending) cases,” he said.
Maope also expressed concern over failure to publish judgments of the High Court.
“A number of judgments have not been published and the number has increased.
“It is the responsibility of the court to publish them. If the court does not publish them it should go out and hire people to publish them,” Maope said.
He said it was ironic that the courts which should deliver justice to the people were now performing “an injustice to the people.”
Maope was in charge of the drafting of the 1993 constitution that saw the country return to democratic rule after the end of the military rule.
He later served as the attorney general, minister of law and constitutional affairs as well as finance minister under the Basotho Congress Party and Lesotho Congress for Democracy governments.