Mda blasts incompetent judges

MASERU — The president of the Law Society of Lesotho Advocate Zwelakhe Mda wants incompetent High Court judges to be “named and shamed”. 

Mda said this while addressing the Lesotho Court of Appeal at the opening of its first session yesterday.

Without naming names, Mda said there were some High Court judges who are undermining the delivery of justice by failing to deliver judgments timeously.

Such indolent judges, Mda said, must be named so that people know who is sitting on the wheels of justice in Lesotho.

“My lords, the Law Society is of the view that judges who are guilty of undermining delivery of justice to the people through failure to deliver judgments must be named and shamed,” Mda said adding that some of the judges on the bench have become notorious for delaying judgments.

“The judicial shame of non-delivery of judgments by some High Court judges continues as a norm,” he said.

“In this regard I need not reiterate that the statement of the president (of the Court of Appeal Justice Michael Ramodibedi) at the close of the last session of this honourable court in October 2009 expressing this court’s frustration, is also shared by the Law Society,” Mda said.

Mda said the problems in the judiciary had been worsened by court authorities who were resorting to unconstitutional measures to address problems in the judiciary.

He cited an example of a recent move by the High Court to empower registrars to preside over uncontested cases in the High Court.

“For instance, the problem of backlog of cases in the High Court cannot be addressed by reposing judicial power in non-judicial officers or judicial officers not appointed in terms of the constitution.

“The solution to the problem lies in heeding the clarion call of the president of this honourable court (Court of Appeal) that all judges without exception must start hearing cases — and delivering reasoned judgments timeously.”

Mda also blamed the office of the attorney general for ignoring the pronouncements made by the Court of Appeal.

He cited some cases in which the Court of Appeal suggested that certain legislations be revised but the attorney general’s office had not acted on the recommendations.

“It sadly behooves me to add to the list of institutions ignoring the pronouncements of this honourable court, the esteemed office of the honourable Attorney General.

“The Attorney General should ensure that parliament addresses issues which this honourable court has raised in its various judgments on the need for law reform,” he said.

He was referring to, among other cases, a case in which the Court of Appeal in 2008 advised parliament to address and regularise the problem of dual citizenship.

The court was making judgment in a case between the late Harvest FM boss Pholoana Lekhoaba and the director of immigration in which the government was arguing that Lekhoaba could not be considered a Lesotho citizen because he held a South African passport. 

The government had said the law does not allow dual citizenship.

The Court of Appeal, in its judgment delivered on April 11, 2008, said parliament should consider enacting legislation to permit Lesotho citizens who acquire South African citizenship to hold such dual citizenship in certain defined circumstances.

But Mda said there seemed no progress has been made so far to remedy the situation.

“There is no sign of any movement on the part of parliament to consider addressing this matter of national importance.

“These few are but incontrovertible evidence of the crisis of the administration of justice and legislative incompetence in our beloved kingdom,” Mda said.

Speaking at the same occasion Attorney General Ts’okolo Makhethe said the Court of Appeal is the climax of justice delivery.

He said much as some will win and others will lose cases all should be positive of the outcome.

“It is true that some will be successful while others will not succeed.

“But I would say even those who will lose should consider themselves victorious as justice would have been done,” Makhethe said.

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