MASERU — Law Society of Lesotho president Zwelakhe Mda is stepping down from the organisation after nine years at the helm.
Mda announced the decision to leave the lawyers’ body in an address during the official opening of the first session of the Court of Appeal of Lesotho on Monday.
“Allow me with due respect and humility to announce my retirement from the presidency of the society at the end of my term this year after leading the society for the past nine years,” Mda said.
During his time at the Law Society of Lesotho, Mda took a fearless stand in advocating for the rule of law and reforms in the justice delivery system.
He said he would continue fighting for the improvement of the justice delivery system in the country after leaving the organisation.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times on Tuesday, Mda was as blunt in retirement as he has been during his time at the Law Society of Lesotho.
He said the society should be incorporated in the Judicial Service Commission, a body responsible for the appointment of judges to ensure credible figures were appointed to the bench.
“Nothing can be achieved if the Law Society is not taken aboard or considered in the Judicial Service Commission,” Mda said. “When you talk about the quality of judges, you talk about the appointment of judges, and this results in the quality of judges.”
He said government’s aloofness and reluctance to engage lawyers had resulted in mediocrity in the justice system.
Asked to comment on the state of the judicial system in the country, Mda said the entire judicial system needed to be overhauled.
Mda wrote to the Chief Justice in 2006 deploring the delay by High Court judges in delivering judgments, a practice he described as a “malaise in the administration of justice”.
Last week he accused the government of sidelining his organisation in the multi-million dollar Lesotho Justice Sector Backlog Strategy project meant to deal with a backlog of criminal cases in the country.
“The government sidelines us perhaps because it wants to hand pick certain lawyers of interest to it. I am of the belief that had the justice ministry worked with us in this the backlog of cases could have been dealt with a long time ago,” he said.
Speaking during the opening of the Court of Appeal’s first session on Monday, Mda expressed concern at the backlog of law reports.
He, however, praised Advocate Kelebone Maope for writing law reports using his own limited resources.
He also commended the Court of Appeal, which “never shirked its responsibility as the highest court in the Kingdom, to show leadership through articulating relevant, modern and progressive judgments in the appeals that we practitioners bring before it”.