Mosito fights for re-instatement

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 Tefo Tefo

FORMER Court of Appeal President, Kananelo Mosito, is not giving up on his quest to be re-instated to the same position as he has filed an appeal against the Constitutional Court judgment which nullified his re-appointment, the Lesotho Times has established.

Justice Mosito was first appointed to the top job by Dr Thomas Thabane during his first tenure as Prime Minister in January 2015. He was re-appointed to the same post on 1 August 2017 after Dr Thabane returned to power in the aftermath of the June 2017 snap national elections.

His re-appointment came after he had been forced to resign in the wake of the establishment of a tribunal in 2016 by former Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, to determine his fitness to hold office over allegations that he had evaded paying taxes.

The tribunal had recommended his impeachment, finding that he had indeed failed to honour his tax obligations and he had acted unlawfully in investigating his fellow judges to establish if they had also paid their taxes as he sought information to advance his cause.

On 13 February this year, his re-appointment was declared null and void by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that he “is not a fit and proper person” for the sumptuous job because he had been impeached by the tribunal.

The February ruling followed a court application by four lawyers, namely, King’s Counsel Motiea Teele, Zwelakhe Mda, Karabo Mohau and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika.

However, the Lesotho Times has since established that Justice Mosito did not take the decision lying down and on 19 February, he and his co-respondents, including Dr Thabane lodged a notice of appeal before the Court of Appeal.

In his appeal notice, Justice Mosito argue that the Constitutional Court erred and misdirected itself in finding for the four lawyers.

Among other things, Justice Mosito argues that the Constitutional Court was wrong to conclude that the tribunal had found him unfit to hold office.

He argues that the tribunal’s findings were of no consequence as they were made after he had already resigned his position as Court of Appeal President on 13 December 2016.

“The first appellant’s (Justice Mosito) resignation became effective as at 16:02 hours on 13 December 2016 and there was no way he could be removed ten days later after he had resigned from that position,” Justice Mosito argues.

“The court ought to have held that the enquiry had been rendered otiose (serving no practical purpose) by such resignation, thereby rendering the last lap of the attempted impeachment frustrated.”

Justice Mosito further argues that the four lawyers had no right to file their application against his re-appointment “either on behalf of the general public or anyone else”.

It is however, not clear when the appeal will be heard as there are no judges who have been appointed to preside over the case.

The controversy surrounding the appointment of the Court of Appeal President did not stop with Justice Mosito. Soon after their success against Justice Mosito, three of the four lawyers again filed another application to stop the swearing-in of Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane as the Acting President of the Court of Appeal.

Justice Hlajoane was appointed on 20 March this year and this followed the termination of the appointment of Justice Yvonne Mokgoro who had initially been appointed to the position in an acting capacity on 27 February 2018.

The net effect of the lawyers’ appeals against Justice Mosito and Justice Hlajoane’s appointments is to further delay the sitting of the Court of Appeal with a direct impact on the administration of justice in Lesotho since it is the highest court in the land.

According to well-placed sources, dozens of cases from the High Court and the Commercial Division of the High Court await hearing in the Court of Appeal.

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